It had been estimated by logisticians that to overcome the minefields, deadfall torpedoes, defence monitors and space stations around Kendrenec would need at least twenty capital ships. If they even managed to break the defences then Cerberex could rely on its standing fleet of Navy interceptors and missile silos. The fleet which set sail from Kendrenec numbered barely a dozen capital ships. The fleet would not even be required.
Even so Admiral Jellicoe made sure Cerberex had adequate fleet power to back up her defences, should the Chaos vessels somehow make it through to the planetary orbit. The battleship Colossus and the cruisers Intrepid, Dreadnought, Repulse, Titan, Invincible and Conqueror were kept in high orbit above the planet. Meanwhile the Dark Angels kept a battlebarge and two strike cruisers behind the planet for an ambush. The Chaos forces would be annihilated.
It wasn’t until Jellicoe lost contact with his outermost defence monitors that the Imperial onlookers realised something was amiss. One by one as the Chaos fleet approached Cerberex’s defensive measures failed. Deadfall torpedoes didn’t fire, minefields were navigated with no detonations and defence monitors stood silent as the Chaos fleet, led by the flagship Eater Of Worlds approached ever closer.
Cursing the Dark Angels and their promise of solid defences Jellicoe set sail to meet the Chaos fleet on 0306.007M42, knowing his fleet would face a stiff test against the fleet of Lord Traegen of Kendrenec. What he got was worse than all his nightmares combined.
As the Colossus approached the Chaos fleet the mighty ship noticed strange readings emanating from the Chaos ships. As they neared the energy readings spiked off all known instruments and crewmen reported a blue haze covering all the consoles onboard. Servitor synapse links sparked and died, the cyborgs flopping uselessly at their posts. Then, as the bridge crew on the mighty warship prayed to the Emperor all power was lost and the Colossus fell into a terrifying silence.
One by one every Imperial vessel which came too near suffered the same fate, power systems shutting down leaving the vessel drifting in space, naked and vulnerable to the enemy guns. It was a miracle the fleet wasn’t destroyed that day as the vessels of the dark Gods slipped by the drifting hulks of the Cerberex Battlegroup, but the enemy did not fire, simply slipping past quietly and maintaining their course and speed with only a few impatient Khornate worshippers launching ill fated and uncoordinated boarding attacks on the stricken Imperial ships.
Unknown to the Imperium the Chaos fleet couldn’t fire even if they wanted to. The same arcane technology which had rendered Kendrenec’s defences inert was only kept operational by the combined shield strength of the fleet. To maintain the energy field around them the Chaos vessels were unable to use their weapons. If they did they too would succumb to the ancient device.
The device was created by the Necrons millennia ago though little more is known of its purpose. It was picked up by the Iron Warriors led by “The Cowboy”, on Scallius and Cathasaea and now their hard work was paying off. Once the Chaos fleet passed well out of weapons range the Imperial ships sprung back into life as if nothing had happened. Jellicoe transmitted an urgent warning to the Dark Angels of the fleet’s affect on them and warned the Imperial defence commanders on the ground to expect a hostile fleet.
The Dark Angels immediately understood the message and pulled their ships well out of range, angry at their inability to intercede at the critical juncture. Instead the commander of all Dark Angel forces teleported to the planet’s surface to oversee the missile silos and defence lasers. Even now the invasion could be stopped before it had begun…
The Chaos forces new they could not use the Necron device to neutralise the planetary defences. Even if the device could penetrate an atmosphere, which it could not, the effect would render their craft ineffective and no landing could take place. They had to accept a contested landing but hoped that the portents they had been given by the Gods of “unexpected deliverance” were true.
They were. Just as the Chaos fleet entered high orbit over Cerberex on 0906.007M42 the missile silos and defence lasers directly in the path of the Chaos landings came under ferocious assault from Eldar forces. This completely unexpected attack threw the Imperial Commanders off balance and they were powerless to interfere as dreadclaw drop pods and a myriad of transport vessels streaked into the Cerberx atmosphere.
Despite the attention of the Imperial Navy Vincennes and Dividian fell on the first day of the assault. By the end of 1006.007M42 the chaos forces had landed in two places and were threatening the city of Gulan. Only the timely and decisive intervention of the Dark Angels prevented a rout and stabilised the front lines. A week later the Imperial forces on Cerberex, mostly PDF units, had stopped the first airborne Chaos assault on the capital, Feducia.
Meanwhile in space the Necron device finally gave out and for the first time the Imperial fleet could engage the enemy. The stage was set. The battle for Cerberex was about to begin…