Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Corticant comes under chaos attack

At the beginning of 03.013M42 the forces of chaos finally tried to take advantage of the imperial weakness in the Perseus Deeps and a large warfleet led by Admiral Traegan of Kendrenec arrived in the Corticant system on 0403.013M42. Over the next week the chaos fleet closed rapidly with the imperial world itself, and the ground commanders prepared for an invasion.

While General Veers prepared for an imminent attack, Admiral Jellicoe put into action his plan for Corticant's defence. Despite having had to divert several battlegroups to the Zadoc subsector, Jellicoe still had three left to defend imperial assets in the Deeps. Two of these the imperial admiral now directed to Corticant, although neither would arrive quickly enough to prevent a landing by chaos forces. Admiral Hector's battlegroup, lead by the mighty Oberon class battleship Apollo, and Admiral Somerville's force, led by Royal Sovereign, also an Oberon class, now raced from their patrol stations in the Perseus Deeps to the Corticant system.

Tragaen's force of fourteen capital vessels headed on into the heart of the Corticant system. Consisting of two battlegroups led by two large battleships, the force would overwhelm any of Jellicoe's battlegroups alone, and now Corticant seemed doomed. On 0703.013M42 the battlegroups split, with Tragaen himself leading Irredeemable Apostate and six cruisers back out into the outer reaches of the system, while the remaining battlegroup continued towards Corticant itself. Admiral Hector's imperial battlegroup had arrived and Tragaen was eager to give battle.

Tragaen's splitting of his forces appeared to be a tactical stroke of genius as Hector's battlegroup found itself split up after its short warp journey. Now Tragaen split his forces, and the engagement which followed began when the dauntless class Hippocampi and Helios were cornered by the more powerful Dark Omen and Unnatural Permutation. Rather than flee the dauntless class cruisers attempted a suicidal charge, but the arrival of the heavy cruiser Doombringer sealed their fate, and both were quickly knocked out of action.

Meanwhile the Dominator Morpheus found itself too far away to help, and looked on in horror as Erebos and Medusa were soon found by the chaos cruisers. Worse still the Irredeemable Apostate, Tragaen's flagship, now arrived on the scene anticipating another massacre. Fortunately for the remaining two dauntless class vessels, the timely arrival of Haphaestus and Hermes off the chaos battleship's starboard quarter led to a duel of giants, and the light cruisers quickly made their escape, although Erebos took some damage.

Hector's grand cruisers were soon in trouble however, as a squadron of Slaughter class vessels appeared directly behind them, and combined with accurate fire from the chaos battleship, both were crippled, then reduced to hulks, the chaos firepower proving accurate and deadly. The final destruction of the imperial grand cruisers was delivered by Doombringer and her carnage consorts, who now joined the fray.

The arrival of the Hades class vessel and the two carnage class vessels should never have happened. Mid way through the engagement the Apollo arrived, powering up her engines suddenly and taking Dark Omen and Unnatural Permutation completely by surprise. At frighteningly closs range the mighty Oberon class battleship fired left and right, but somehow the carnage class cruisers managed to take last minute evasive action, and they both appeared relatively unscathed from the storm of fire.

Worse was to follow for the Apollo. Just minutes later, a volley of long range fire from Doombringer, fired speculatively from her dorsal lance turrets, detonated the battleship's starboard ordnance fuel stores, causing a flash explosion which knocked out more than half the veteran battleship's power relays. This effectively crippled the imperial flagship, and she was forced to withdraw, leaving the grand cruisers to their fate.

The Morpheus, seeing the carnage, quickly reversed course. Tragaen had decisively beaten the imperial fleet and now looked certain to take Corticant, or at least land a significant army. Even if Somerville managed to arrive in good time, he faced a force twice his size, as Tragaen's forces had taken no significant damage in the engagement with Hector, while the imperium had lost four capital ships.

Tragaen's second battlegroup, commanded by admiral Hellbore, prepared to complete the landings on Corticant, but suddenly, appearing from behind an asteroid field, a force of Space Wolves, led by an astartes battlebarge, closed with the planet. Rather than give battle directly Erik Morkai was keen to get his forces on the ground. This his fleet did, but at the expense of tactical position in space. Hellbore was able to pour murderous fire on his enemy, and soon three strike cruisers were hulked and burning, while two others were badly damaged. The Space Wolves destroyed a large number of chaos escorts, but all Hellbore's cruisers remained intact. The Space Wolves however managed to unload three companies onto Corticant before rapidly fleeing. When Hellbore moved in to unload his own cargo, his generals soon realised their forces were now woefully inadequate to effect a meaningful landing. A small unit of Khorne bezerkers caused some damage on the ground, but the invasion of Corticant had been defeated.

By 0903.013M42 the imperial fleet had lost seven capital ships to none in return. They had effectively lost an imperial battlegroup and had an astartes fleet badly mauled. However the chaos fleet, intact and powerful, now realised it didn't carry enough troops to carry out an invasion. Use of the Catechism device was out of the question, as Moonface was still recharging it after operations on Zoggot, and Tragaen found himself attracting the ire of both the Iron Warriors and Lorek for his failure.7

Worse was to follow for Tragaen, as Hellbore's squadron was ambushed by the late arriving Admiral Somerville on 1103.013M42, as the chaos fleet attempted to make a crossing of the Corticant shoals, an area of dense asteroid fields and debris. Hellbore closed with the imperial battlegroup, but Somerville was able to cross Hellbore's "T", raking the chaos fleet with murderous broadside fire from Royal Sovereign, supported by Glorious, Warspite and Implacable, while the Conquerer and Aboukir provided support from the flank. During the battle the chaos battleship was crippled, as was the acheron class heavy cruiser. These early blows meant the chaos fleet was unable to return fire effectively, although Aboukir was heavily damaged in the engagement. Two chaos cruisers were destroyed before Hellbore disengaged, his fleet ravaged and scattered. These would make their way back to Kendrenec individually over the coming weeks.

Somerville's action left his fleet largely intact, and with the remaining space marine vessels and Morpheus, the admiral now heade after Tragaen's battlegroup. Now the chaos admiral was outnumbered and outgunned, and the veteran commander quickly made his escape, using his vessels' faster acceleration to reach the jump point and head back to Kendrenec.

The Corticant invasion had been prevented by the imperium, but at great cost. The loss of seven capital ships was a tremendous blow to the imperial fleet. It also meant that on 1303.013M42, when a sizeable necron fleet arrived in the system, they were powerless to do anything about it. The aliens landed a sizeable force in the west of inhabited zone, and after a sizeable battle with the defending Corellian Storm Guard, the city of Fairmoor fell to the enemy. It seemed that the imperial losses to prevent the chaos invasion had been in vain, and a far more powerful enemy had taken advantage of the struggle in space to make their own bid for Corticant.

<< Hector takes on Tragaen

Imperial losses: - 7 capital ships destroyed, 5 crippled
3 Strike cruisers destroyed
Hermes, Hephaestus, Hippocampi, Helios destroyed
2 Strike cruisers crippled
Aboukir, Apollo, Erebos crippled

Chaos losses: - 2 capital ships destroyed, 2 crippled

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