Sunday, November 16, 2014

Admiral Thok destroys Beattie

The next encounter in the Bastien system occurred on 1511.014M42 with the arrival of Admiral Thok. This signalled an escalation of the conflict as now Tragean, Thok and the Word Bearers were known to be in the system. In response, admiral Jellicoe had ordered his entire Zadoc fleet to Bastien to bolster the Perseus Deeps battlegroup. This left the Zadoc subsector largely undefended, but Jellicoe knew that such a concentration of chaos naval forces represented a serious threat to imperial control of the upper Deeps.

It was admiral Beattie's command, led by the fast battleship Tiger, which intercepted Thok's force which had penetrated to the outer biosphere of Bastien system with ease. Thok's ships took up the favoured crescent formation, presenting their massive long range firepower to the oncoming imperial battle group.

Beattie split his fleet around an asteroid field. Although this was against the usual imperial doctrine, his plan was to lure Thok into a trap. He positioned Tiger at the head of the chaos fleet, intending to cross the "T" of the chaos fleet then withdraw to port while the remainder of the imperial fleet would be allowed to take up position diretly behind Thok's vessels, ready for a torpedo run as well as utilising Glorious' nova cannon.

The second part of Beattie's plan went well, as Thok's fleet gleefully moved in on Tiger. However Beattie had made a fatal misjudgement, and this coupled with some bad luck, would doom the imperial fleet. Tiger was a "fast battleship". heavily armed, large, but lightly armoured, and now the untested design revealed its vulnerabilities as a speculative volley of torpedoes from Jormungandr closed in.

The torpedoes were intercepted by Tiger's turrets, but the short ranged guns hadn't been calibrated properly, and all the torpedoes got through. The armoured prow of Tiger also proved to be somehow defective, as four torpedoes ripped through the plating, detonating inside. The ship was plunged into darkness and all weapons systems failed. Tiger was now a sitting duck, crippled by a volley of torpedoes which would not usually threaten even a cruiser.

While the rest of the imperial fleet moved into position, Tiger, unable to escape, was pounded with fire until inevitably the ship exploded dramatically. Her consort, the Invincible, a tyrant class cruiser, was soon reduced to a smoking wreck as she two tried to escape the clutches of the chaos fleet, and by the time the imperial fleet had got themselves behind Thok's fleet the Agincourt had been crippled, and miscommunications between the remaining imperial vessels ensured that by the time they were in position, the chaos fleet had reacted. Now the remaining imperial vessels were outnumbered, ougunned and facing destruction. Assuming command, Commodore McManners ordered a general retreat, an order which undoubtedly saved the imperial fleet from further damage. The imperial vessels had landed hits on the chaos vessels, but no ship had suffered anything more than superficial damage.

Overall the encounter was a total disaster for Jellicoe's fleet. One bright point in the whole affair was the fact that Beattie had been killed in the detonation of the Tiger. If he hadn't, Jellicoe would have had him court martialled and executed anyway, for such reckless actions and conceiving a battle plan which exposed the vulnerabilities of the fast battleship, and required the careful co-ordination of his fleet. Beattie had been aiming to repeat his previous victories over Admiral Thok, but instead he paid the ultimate price of failure. Strategically Jellicoe now faced three chaos fleets in the Bastien system, and the world was now under blockade.

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