Sunday, August 25, 2013

Battle of Zadoc Narrows: Imperial decisive victory!

With the debacle of Celliano putting imperial forces firmly on the defensive on Zadoc, Imperial command of the subsector led by General Montgomery were appalled to find that a substantial fleet of Word Bearers ships were now on their way to support the chaos invasion of the subsector capital. The wisdom of the Imperial Navy abandoning, at least for the time being, imperial forces on Tyranteous, now seemed confirmed, as by 2008.013M42 the squadron of swords in orbit around the Zadoc system was joined by Task Force Sommerville, a force of five cruisers and the venerable Oberon class Battleship Royal Sovereign.

Commodore Sommerville was therefore well placed to intercept the inbound chaos fleet, which had been sized at seven capital class vessels. This turned out to include much of the fleet previously commanded by Lorek, the leader of the Claws of Lorek, whose remaining forces had since turned to the "Arch Cleric" now that Lorek had apparently disappeared. Imperial intelligence were still without any clue as to why the lord of chaos had vanished, but now his forces seemed to be flocking to the cause of the new chaos warlord.

The seven chaos vessels moved in system from the jump point in the outer reaches. Sommerville had positioned his fleet in the gas giant belt since its arrival at Zadoc, knowing that the halo of volatile plasma which surrounded the system had few navigable gaps, and that it was in one of these relatively safe zones that he would have the best chance of nullifying his opponent's superior manouverability. On 2408.013M42 Sommerville was proved right, as the chaos fleet appeared from the warp and immediately made for the safest route through the halo, a region of space known as the Zadoc Narrows.

The battle took place in this narrow area of space, surrounded by volatile plasma fields and strewn with rocks, debris and gas clouds. The two fleets approached on parallel but opposite courses, with the Imperial fleet initially passing down the starboard wing of the chaos vessels. Sommerville took his ships past a particularly dense area of asteroids, allowing his nova cannon equipped ships to fire a few volleys at the chaos vessels and crippling one enemy cruiser almost immediately. Then the two fleets turned towards each other, and a tactical game of cat and mouse ensued around the densely packed rocks.

Commodore Sommerville was careful in only exposing his vessels to the greater part of the enemy fleet when he had to. This meant the chaos fleet were rarely able to gain effective firing solutions on their enemy, and during the battle only the Mars class Glorious took significant damage from enemy shooting, although one Sword Class escort found itself too close to the chaos line in the early stages and was destroyed. As the battle progressed, the Fortress of Hate found herself totally exposed to the entire firepower of the imperial fleet, her captain rashly deciding to turn in towards the imperial vessels with no support from her consorts. Sommerville's ships accepted the easy picking, and the chaos cruiser was soon ablaze. Eventually she detonated in a spectacular plasma explosion, crippling the Implacable in the process.

Having already put one devastation class vessel out of action early on, the loss of the Fortress of Hate put the chaos vessels at a considerable disadvantage. Nevertheless their commander turned his vessels in a hard starboard turn, and the remaining chaos vessels buffeted the Royal Sovereign at long range before the imperial battleship slipped behind the asteroid belt. However this had been deliberate "bait" set up by Sommerville. While the chaos vessels had turned their attention to the imperial flagship, the torpedo equipped Hogue and Agincourt were able to come about, navigate through the asteroid field and employ a devastating volley of torpedoes through the flank of the neatly lined up chaos vessels.

This daring attack run hulked another chaos cruiser, leaving the chaos ships with just four cruisers facing Sommerville's three, plus two escorts and the Royal Sovereign. Worse still the bulk of the imperial fleet was now to the rear of the chaos vessels, who had little space in which to turn. Sommerville made the most of this, hammering the chaos ships from behind, hulking another and crippling two more which disengaged.

Eventually the chaos fleet lost another ship, her captain unable to disengage from the fight due to the bridge having been shorn clean off. The eventual tally saw the loss of five of the seven chaos cruisers, with the remaining two crippled. The imperium hadn't lost a single capital ship and Sommerville had delivered the imperium their most decisive victory over chaos for several years. The remaining two chaos vessels slipped away from the imperial fleet but Zadoc had been secured in space at least. Commodore Sommerville was quickly promoted to Rear Admiral, and the news of the victory was broadcast across the sector as an example of imperial victory by a greatful Imperial sector governor.

Chaos Losses
Fortress of Hate - exploded
Warp Revelator - hulked
Divine Anarchy - hulked
Agonise Demise - hulked
Unholy Flame - hulked

Sword of Ajax - crippled
Divine Anarchy - crippled

Imperial Losses
One sword escort  - destroyed

Glorious - crippled
Implacable - crippled

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