For many months the chaos fleet had been holed up in their base at Mordecai docks. The docks themselves were too powerful and too close to Astralis for the imperial fleets to challenge, but the fleet "in being" was making almost no contribution to the war in the Mordecai system. At the docks two fleets remained, those of the Emerald Serpent but also two battlegroups who pledged allegience to Lord Tragean, lord of Kendrenec. Tragean himself had grown tired of the war on Mordecai, and although his two fleets remained in situ in the system, he gave overall command to the fleets to the chaos lord Khazia the Schemer, while Tragean himself pursued his pursuit of power with the dark god Tzeentch, uninterested in the fate of Mordecai or that of the Emerald Serpent. Mad admiral Thok had also not been seen for many years, and Warsmith Stahl hadn't been seen since the debacle at Hexis, having apparently returned to the Enceladus subsector to brood, and imperial intelligence were now confident that the forces they had deployed in the system would be difficult to challenge.
The Imperium was not without its own difficulties, as Admiral Hector had been withdrawn from the sector, and Jellicoe had to ensure the entire remit of his domain was adequately protected, which given the reach of the extended campaigns was a serious challenge, but by 04.023M42 the admiral was reasonably confident that the Imperium had a three to two advantage in capital ships in the system, though the power of Astralis and the actual fleet numbers at the disposal of the Emerald Serpent was difficult to accurately assess. Jellicoe also had confidence in the overall command of the four battlegroups at Mordecai, which he gave to Admiral Stark. Stark was a bold and confident admiral, something Jellicoe admired, and the lord Admiral had good reason to be confident as his subordinate had regularly delivered decisive imperial victories.
Admiral Stark, with his flag aboard the Kirov, a mighty retribution class battleship, had three other battlegroups under his command, making four in total. His own personal command was reinforced by admiral Dreyer's and that of admiral Hughes, while his own protégé admiral Gorshkov commanded another force, which had now been tasked with escorting the vital convoys from the system's jump point to the warzone at Mordecai Secundus. Stark himlelf along with Dreyer, stood guard against any sortie by the chaos fleets from their anchorage, while admiral Hughes was assigned to patrol the outer reaches of the system and crucially the jump points into the system.
In mid 04.023M42 the change in chaos posture within the system became evident with multiple contacts being picked up by a convoy as it transferred men and materiel to the armies of Kutuzov. The cruisers Narva, a gothic class and the Eagle, a dictator class on loan from admiral Dreyer's fleet moved in swiftly to investigate while ordering the transports to form up into a single squadron for mutual defence. Soon attack waves of bombers appeared to harass the convoy, but these were easily dealt with. More worryingly, no sooner had the chaos attack craft been dealt with than the augurs detected what appeared to be two capital class chaos vessels.
The commodore aboard the Narva ordered battle stations, and soon engaged in a duel with a carnage class vessel that did not appear to be loyal to the Emerald Serpent. The Narva joined battle quickly, but not before the enemy vessel had taken down two of the eight transports. Then, a squadron of chaos escorts materialised in front of the Eagle, with yet another contact appearing off the dictator class's bow. The captain of the Eagle wasted no time for confirmation of the contacts and launched all bomber waves against the escorts, while issuing orders for a full broadside. Meanwhile, taking a risk, he ordered the torpedoing of the unknown contract off the bow, before setting all ahead full to deal with this new unidentified enemy.
The Eagle's bold move took the chaos escorts completely off guard, and they were quickly destroyed. Meanwhile the duel between the carnage class and the Narva reached a crescendo, with the chaos vessel concentrating on the transports the Narva was unmolested as it patiently took aim with its massive lance batteries. The Narva's accuracy was creditible, and although the chaos cruiser managed to take out a third transport, the enemy vessel was driven off, heavily damaged by Narva's guns and a torpedo strike. While the Narva duelled the carnage class, the Eagle now saw what the enemy contact was, as the hasty torpedo salvo detonated against the thick hull plating of a hades class heavy cruiser. Not expecting the sudden appearance of torpedoes while still apparently hidden from the imperial vessel, the hades barely made any move to avoid the torpedoes, and the damage was severe. With one salvo the eagle had crippled the enemy heavy cruiser, and to add insult to injury the captain of the imperial ship moved in, silencing the enemy ships guns and boarding the vessel.
Having dealt with the two cruisers and escorts, the engagement then turned to mopping up. A few more attack waves were spotted and dealt with, and the remaining five transports, who themselves had acted creditably in the action using their limited gun batteries to aid the Narva, made it safely to Mordecai Secundus. As a bonus, the Eagle sent the now captured badly damaged hades class back to the imperial docks as a prize of war, while messaging admiral Stark. Stark immediately judged that this meant lord Tragean's subordinate, Khazia the Schemer, was probably at large in force, and sent Dreyer to Mordecai Tersius in case of a sneak attack, while he ordered Eagle and Narva to rendezvous with him near Mordecai Secundus, where a sudden strike by one chaos battlefleet would be the most damaging.