Sunday, October 14, 2012

Battles in the Mabb Nebula

While General Veers concentrated on the invasion of Grimlock. General Brooke was concentrating on the Mabb Nebula. Battlegroup Beattie had been assigned to Veers’ crusade, but Brooke still had Craddock’s battlegroup, led by the battleship Vanguard. Craddock was charged with clearing the warp lanes in the Mabb Nebula to prepare the way for reinforcements to be sent to Hylas, and to build up forces to provide a launch pad for the “clearing of the Shadow Worlds”. All previous agreements with the tau were forgotten. Brooke meant to accomplish what Alexander had singularly failed to do, bringing the strategically important worlds in the nebula back under the control of Mankind.

The expedition started well. Unable to resist a good scrap, a force of ork ships loyal to Uzfang and Krumpguts faced down the imperial battlegroup in the outer reaches of the Hylas system on 1210.012M42. The battle which followed was confused and tactical rather than brutal and close fought, as Craddock was unwilling to charge headlong into the orks all guns blazing. Instead after long range nova cannon fire his fleet turned to starboard, raking the orks with his ships’ broadsides.

Craddock achieved a victory, destroying two ork “kroozers”, crippling another and severely damaging a large ork vessel equivalent to an imperial battleship. The orks then quit the battlefield, but Craddock had taken significant damaged. The cruisers Indefatigable and Invincible had been badly damaged, and Irresistable suffered a terminal plasma drive overload.

Brooke was underwhelmed by the results, but the warp lane to Hylas had, for now, been opened. However Craddock had more problems only a week later, when his fleet was intercepted by a tau force en route to New Cerberex.

The tau were clearly alarmed by the presence of a full imperial battlegroup in the nebula, and had shown up in force. Craddock’s two crippled vessels had returned to Hylas Reach naval base for repairs, but the rest of the fleet had continued on to rendezvous with several regiments of Imperial Guard stationed at New Cerberex. The tau intended to stop them.

Craddock and the Tau fleet approached each other in the dangerous environment near to a volatile red dwarf in an uninhabited system. Neither Craddock nor the tau admiral intended this, but the result was a confused battle in a region of space full of solar flares and confusing radiation bursts.

Despite their superiority in ordnance, the deciding factor in the battle was gunnery. In the initial pass the tau fleet fired all their forward gunnery and proved the more accurate fleet, while the imperium, turning once again to starboard, found it difficult to land telling blows on the alien fleet.

The imperial vessels did manage to reduce on vessel, the protector class Sentinel to a hulk, and inflicted serious damage to Deliverance, but suffered greater losses. Vanguard remained undamaged, while the Agincourt, Redoubtable and Black Prince were destroyed, leading to accusations that Craddock “failed to engage the enemy forcibly”. Cressy was crippled and the remaining imperial ships were forced to disengage, and only the confusion of the stellar environment allowed the imperium to later take the hulks in tow. Craddock returned to Hylas Reach, the rendezvous with forces on New Cerberex canceled for the time being. General Brooke would be kept waiting, at least for now.

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