Jellicoe could not count on his entire fleet to intercept the Chaos vessels, as several had set out for Aornis, following reports of a Tau landing there. Instead he was left with the new grand cruiser Canopus, the carrier Intrepid, and the dominator class cruiser Renown.
With these assets Jellicoe gave command to captain Grant of the Canopus who moved his fleet to the neighbouring system of Aranos, an uninhabited red dwarf star system. There his astropaths had predicted the Chaos fleet would be intercepted. They were right, and early on 0908.008M42 the enemy appeared.
Grant organised his fleet into a tight pack, with Canopus using her long range firepower to protect the shorter range cruisers. Grant’s fleet faced three large chaos cruisers, identified as the styx class Horrific, the slaughter class Dark Omen and the long range carnage class Retaliation.
Early in the battle Grant realised he was facing an inexperienced commander, as the chaos cruisers immediately closed at different speeds, with Dark Omen leaving the other two cruisers behind. She immediately came under sustained fire from Grant’s battlegroup and sustained early damage. Both sides escorts engaged in a furious battle, suffering major damage before disengaging. Meanwhile Retaliation brought herself into the fray, causing damage to Renown. Unfortunately for the Chaos fleet she turned to starboard to bring her main guns to bear, while the Horrific and Dark Omen continued to close.
This action caused the carnage class to actually move away from the battle, in the opposite direction to the Imperial ships, which maintained their battle line, giving full broadsides to the Dark Omen, which was forced to disengage having been crippled, then Horrific, which suffered the same fate.
The Chaos fleet did inflict damage on Grant’s battlegroup, causing serious damage to Renown who sheared out of line to limp home to Caitlen station, but after two hours of battle they were left with Retaliation to face the undamaged Canopus and Intrepid alone. This was a battle she could not win and the Chaos cruiser disengaged.
The battle had been little more than a skirmish but the Imperium once again established her dominance over the fleets of Traegan and Thok, something the Imperial fleet had been able to do for two years without loss to the forces of Chaos. The action also allowed the other Caitlen based ships to successfully reconnoitre Aornis unmolested.
For the Chaos fleet it was a hard lesson in battle tactics, and the damage inflicted ensured that Horrific and Dark Omen would be out of action for at least a month, while the facilities at Caitlen allowed the Imperium to repair Renown in just two weeks. The worry for the Imperium was that the fleets of Traegan and Thok would learn from their mistakes.
Victory Points: Chaos 75, Imperium 163