Friday, April 04, 2008

Task Force sails for Melberg

Jellicoe prepares the fleet
At the end of 007.M42 Admiral Jellicoe prepared a task force to relieve the beleagured forces on Melberg. He knew that despite recent losses the Tau still had a considerable force of ships at Melberg, and the later he left it the more likely it was that the Tau would be able to refit one of their hulked Custodian vessels. That would pose a real threat to his objective of wrestling control of the system from Admiral Coldsight's grasp.

Jellicoe's first problem was that his ships were spread out. Many, including the Battleship Agamemnon were on assignment in the Perseus Deeps, while the rest of the fleet, including the mighty Retribution class Vanguard, were at Zadoc. He would have to join this fleet together before making the long warp jump to Melberg.

Jellicoe had two choices, either to join the fleets at Zadoc or to have them meet up en-route. The first plan was the sensible, cautious one, allowing the fleet to merge at one of the most heaviliy defended space docks in the sector. The second saved time, something Jellicoe had precious little of. Hoping his plans would remain secret he ordered the fleets to join at the Heliocene system, halfway to Melberg. Unfortunately, the Tau, via a UFP spy, found out, and prepared a surprise.

Ambush at Heliocene
The rendevous depended on a number of factors. Jellicoe's fleet, which included Agamemnon, the Domiator class vessels Black Prince and Warrior as well as four sword class frigates arrived first, and were forced to wait for the Vanguard and her consort, the dictator class cruiser Emperor's Wrath. While they waited they soon found out they were not alone.

At first Jellicoe was unsure whether or not to believe the readings he was being given. It seemed to suggest that a pirate fleet of escort sized vessels, numbering a few dozen, was attacking them. Given the Imperial fleet had a battleship present and no supply convoy this was highly irregular.

As the pirates got close they dueled with the more experienced Sword Frigate captains and suffered horrendous losses. Even so a few hits knocked out Broke and Botha, forcing Warrior and Black Prince to intervene. Soon the two heavy cruisers had forced the Pirates to flee while the Agamemnon's powerful lance batteries ensured the Pirates stayed well away from the flagship.

The Imperial admiral was about to retire for dinner, thinking the action almost over, when there was a tremendous power spike followed by a bright flash several thousand miles ahead of the Agamemnon. Soon reports came in that the Pirates had used a fireship, a small vessel packed with explosives and forced to suffer a plasma drive implosion. Fortunately the Black Prince was far enough away and escaped with minor damage. Then two more were spotted.

An enormous explosion seared the vacuum of space, with the gravity wave strong enough to cause Agamemnon to heel over. Warrior had been caught in the full force of the blast, ripping her shields away and causing multiple blasts. Though her crews were able to get the fires under control the ship was crippled. There job apparently done, the Pirates fled. Jellicoe wondered how much the Tau had paid them...

Rather than proceed to Melberg with a crippled cruiser Jellicoe headed back to port. The repairs were conducted in record time but as the year ended and 008.M42 began and Jellicoe's task force once again left Zadoc, he wondered if the delay had been enough time for the Tau to get their repairs done too...

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