Friday, November 27, 2015

Inconclusive action between Crusade and Loyalist fleets

The imperial fleet found out about Inquisitor Vorushko's crusade fleet on 1411.015M42. Although Jellicoe had decided the imperial navy were neutral with regard to the crusade-loyalist war in the Libria system, he had not reckoned with the power of Vorushko's influence at Kar Duniash. For several months an eniter battlegroup under the command of Admiral Cornelius had been en route to the Aleph sector at the behest of the lord inquisitor. Vorushko had carefully pitched her request at the lords of the naval sector, who were kept blind to the real intentions of the crusade by Vorushko's agents. All they knew was that planets had rebelled against the imperium, the tau were involved and Vorushko needed ships.

Aided by the rabble rousing speeches of the Ecclesiarchy, who had become passionate supporters of the crusade in the segmentum, Cornelius' fleet of a few dozen imperial cruisers and other capital ships was soon being followed by a whole host of other vessels. Supply ships, converted liners, monitors and anything that could make warp jumps was soon commandeered by the priesthood to follow on a holy pilgrimage to the worlds of Saint Cybil - the Libria system.

Cornellius had become concerned by the rag tag convoy which had become spread out along a line from Kar Duniash to the Aleph Sector. He ordered the hot headed Rear Admiral Fernando ahead with the majority of the crusade fleet's naval vessels, while the admiral and his remaining ships attempted to apply some order on the mass of civilian ships following.

Vorushko was well aware the crusade fleet would soon run into Jellicoe's navy. Although defeated at the battle of Libria Jellicoe had already ordered Admiral Barham to the system, and the admiral's ships had already arrived near Libria V. She responded by placing agents with Fernando, who "explained" the situation. Finally Vorushko would be able to take the imperial navy under Jellicoe - who she quietly held responsible for treachery against her - out of the equation.

Fernando arrived and immediately found himself facing admiral Barham's patrolling vessels who had been scanning the solar flare region of the Librian star. Without warning they began to close in attack formation, agressively moving towards Barham's ships as he tried to frantically hail them on comms.

Barham fortunately had been prepared for such an eventuality by Jellicoe, who had made contingency plans for such an attack by a crusade fleet, although it still came as a shock to him that an entire imperial battlegroup had been commandeered by Vorushko. In the ensuing battle in the flare region both fleets got to within suicidal range, trading volley after volley and salvo after salvo of torpedoes.

Admiral Fernando lost six of his escorts as well as four of his cruisers crippled after an engagement lasting more than two hours, but Barham had lost the gothic class Kraken, which exploded in similar fashion to the gothic class vessels present at the battle of Libria. Once again the plasma routing for the powerful lance batteries of the gothic class were called into question, and the adeptus mechanicus began what would prove to be a long and exhaustive analysis of the perceived weakness. Following this battle all of Jellicoe's gothic class cruisers were relegated to patrol duty only.

Although Basilisk and Pegasus were crippled, the imperial fleet still had the upper hand against Fernando's badly mauled fleet. Realising if he continued the fight he faced destruction, the admiral of the crusade fleet disengaged, using the plasma discharges of the Librian star to cover his retreat. It was by no means a victory for the loyalists, and the crusade fleet was able to reach the forges of Libria I. Jellicoe, hearing of the action, immediately sent a message to Kar Duniash clarifying the situation. But the damage was done already, Vorushko was in command of the crusade fleet now and nothing the segmentum naval base did or said would make any difference.

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