Friday, November 18, 2016

Libria I: Enqvist and Zhukov take eastern cities

On Libria I General Zhukov continued his plans to drive the crusade forces out of the east of Libria I. His plan called for mass bombardments from orbit of Carteret, Kent City, Laureles and Ranch, softening up their defences before a massive Imperial guard advance by his Novgorod forces. To accomplish this Jellicoe released Admiral Enqvist, Novogord born himself, to take his battlegroup in system to the innermost world of the Libria system.

For many months no-one had meaningfully challenged the loyalist hold on the Librian system itself. The alliance fleet were still running convoy missions when they could, sometimes interdicted by Jellicoe's pickets, but with the departure of Apollo's fleet the tau and Federacy were unwilling to commit large naval resources to the system. Meanwhile the crusade, while having a "fleet" of sorts, found their many vessels spread out all over the Libria system, with most being protected from attack around the crusade controlled Libria V. There was a lot of system between Libria V and Libria I, and Inquisitor Vorushko, leader of the crusade - at least in theory - did not have enough ships. It was time, she decided, to change the playing field.

On board her Inquisitorial blackship - a modified heavy cruiser design - Vorushko approached admiral Barham's battlegroup patrolling the Perseus run. She requested an audience with the rear admiral and, escorted by several units of adeptus sororitas of the Order of the Crimson Veil, requisitoned the entire battlegroup in late 10.016M42. Barham, spineless and eager to please, did not object. He also agreed not to inform his superiors, so when his battlegroup arrived at Libria I on 1211.016M42 it took Admiral Enqvist completely by surprise.

The Novgorod admiral however took no chances, and it was fortunate that as soon as Barham's fleet began closing in attack formation, he judged them to be hostile. Unfortunately for Barham Enqvist did not hesitate or waver, and the headlong charge into the loyalist fleet resulted in catastrophic carnage for the crusade. In the space of just over an hour, the imperial ships exchanged fire with one another, but Barham, overconfident in his new "righteousness", came of far worse. The loyalists suffered one cruiser damaged, while Vorushko's new battlegroup was heavily punished. One cruiser was lost, while Barham's flagship Leviathan was crippled, along with two more capital ships. Barham quickly disengaged, and though shaken, the loyalist fleet continued its duty.

Admiral Jellicoe was notified of the incident, but fell short of reprimanding Barham. Instead he considered the admiral now a "hostage" of Vorushko, finally committing himself to the loyalist cause. On Libria I itself the Novgorod offensive went ahead as planned, and the massive bombardment from space seriously hampered the crusade's ability to respond. Lacking astartes help and now reliant on their requisitioned guard units, it was the cadian mechanised forces who suffered the most as the eastern cities fell one by one. By 1811.016M42 the operation had come to an end and all four eastern cities were now in loyalist hands.

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