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Thamoz

Reports from the Sunda Strait

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Foreword

What follows is the serialised accounts of the Sunda Strait campaign, a conflict that raged between the Covenant of Antarctica and the Kingdom of Britannia and her allies. This tale of the conflict, written using first hand accounts taken from the journals and reports of the commanders and crew involved, may shed light on events that would shape this area of the world for decades to come. It is still unknown why the Covenant chose to bring the war to Sunda Strait, nor how involved they were in the catastrophe that shook the region in 1883.

- Edward Cottering, Historian of the Royal Society. !907

 

As the year 1883 began the forces of the covenant made a bold strike. Utilising advanced teleportation technology the 42nd Farstrike Assault fleet invaded the Sunda strait. The sudden appearance of an entire armada of Covenant ships took the resident Britannian forces entirely by surprise, caught unprepared and scattered they were swiftly swept aside by the Covenant forces. Three small island clusters and a major port were lost to the invaders before word of the attack had even reached London and a Covenant "research" station was soon established . The element of surprise would not last long, however. Acting fast the commanding Britannian admiral assembled a sizable fleet to repel the invaders, calling in aid from their nearby allies to shore up their forces. With access to far more manufacturing facilities, supplies and nearby reinforcements than his Antarctican counterpart the Britannian admiral was confident of forcing the perfidious penguins from this corner of the globe...

 

Custodian-Captain Jain Narish strode the command deck of the CAS Unwitting Accomplice. The Hyperbius class control flyer was ranging ahead of his fleet, scouting the shallower coastal waters through which they had to travel. He had been given the command of the small flotilla, traveling to meet up with the main battle fleet massing to the north. Britannian fleets had started to become a problem again, occasionally engaging Covenant patrols. Until recently they had been penned up in their harbours, battered aside by the initial arrival of the Farstrike Assault fleet, but with repairs complete and reinforcements arriving they were getting bold again. Considering the strategically valuable nature of Jain's flotilla it would be a harsh blow to the 42nd fleet we're it to be lost to an over-eager upstart Britannian. With this in mind and lacking any cumbersome large vessels Jain had opted to sail closer to the coast to avoid any such engagement. He was particularly unhappy therefore, to see a strong Britannian force cutting through the waters towards him.

Wasting only enough time to shout imprecations at the controller manning the reconnaissance drones Jain called up a display of the surrounding area. Rocky outcrops to port of the fleet would provide good cover to the vulnerable Kepler drone launchers whilst his Fresnels could remain at extreme range, shredding the enemy with well placed laser fire. With the Diogenes and Thales squadrons providing cover to the more valuable vessels, Jain hoped he would be able to destroy the swifter elements of the enemy force so that he could outrun the enemy. As his fleet moved into position behind him a cry from one of his officers drew his attention to the front windows of his flyer. Merlins! A full squadron of them! As the Unwitting Accomplice reversed its incredible engine pods to retreat away from the interceptors the weapons officers went to work. Energy and rockets blazed forth from the control flyer, bringing down one of the Merlins as their guns racked the large flyer. Fires broke out in the generator chamber as one of the engine pods began to belch black smoke.

As the command vessel was wracked by enemy fire the Fresnels let fly with their impressive energy arrays. Across the battlefield a Devak cruiser's shields flared then failed under the laser fire as they charged closer. Diogenes torpedo salvos added further damage as they maneuvered to shield the valuable gunships. Seeing their moment, a Thales squadron leapt out at the crippled Devak, sinking the vessel with their impressive gunnery.

Under guidance from the command flyer the Keplers rose from the waves, lancing out with astonishing accuracy at the Merlin interceptors and tearing one from the sky. A Thales squadron swung round ahead of the drone launchers, preparing to ambush the KoB commander as he sailed out from behind cover. And sail out he did, aboard a mighty Lord Hood battlecruiser. Its guns began to roar as shell after shell shot out at the beleaguered Unwitting Accomplice whilst the sky began to fill with drone fighters.

Though the Britannian force had suffered, racing through the fussilade of Covenant energy weaponry, they had now begun to reach their own effective wave. Jain cursed as an untouched squadron of Agincourt struck out, its piercing torpedoes knocking the shields out on one of his Fresnels whilst its torpedo turrets smashed two Thales out of the water. Drone fighters began to swirl around his vessel, tearing Merlins out of the sky whilst the interceptors carried on chewing away at the Hyperbius. Firepower from the Hood, remaining Devaks and Veeren corvettes began to mount up sharply. Explosions wracked the flyer as the shields failed and fires ate through the corridors. Despite the best efforts of the drone controllers on both the Hyperbius and Keplers the power of the Britannian guns could not be denied. The CAS Unwitting Accomplice fell from the skies, trailing smoke and debris, to smash into the ocean. As the command channel fell silent and the control systems of the Hyperbius ceased to communicate, the rest of the fleet fell into chaos. Unable to coordinate their weaponry, the Fresnel squadrons attacks on the Agincourt flailed uselessly against their shields. One lucky strike slipped through, blasting a hole in the enemy hull, but this was insufficient. Similarly without direction the Diogenes and Thales squads proved unable to capitalise on this damage. Despite this setback another Devak was reduced to a sinking hulk by drone dive bombers and Diogenes frigates. Buoyed up by the sudden disarray of their enemy, the battered KoB fleet continued their reckless charge. As the Fresnels, finally back under proper command, blazed fire at the Lord Hood battlecruiser the Agincourts moved forward. Shunting aside the screen of corvettes and frigates they let rip with their weapons. Bringing down the damaged Fresnel and blasting several small vessels with their torpedo turrets. Feeling triumph was close, the Lord Hood battlecruiser rode down 3 corvettes in its path and layed about it with turret fire. This proved a costly error, for its charge had brought it within the reach of a drone dive bomber squadron. The Britannian fighter cap that guarded the commanding vessel could not react quickly enough and the drones tore into the battecruiser. As the smoke cleared there was no sign of the enemy commander. As squadrons of Britannian vessels began to panic the last Devak destroyed more Diogenes frigates. Stormed at with Thales shot and Diogenes shell, the noble Raj cruiser was battered and beaten before sinking as repair crews panicked and abandoned their duties.

Both severely damaged, the two fleets began to disengage. Without signal being passed it had become clear to both that neither side would be able to lay claim to this part of the ocean without reinforcements. Though the Britannian fleet had suffered heavier losses, they were content that they had destroyed the opposing commander. Likewise the Covenant flotilla had lost many valuable vessels but the destruction of the enemy small elements meant that most of the strategic assets were able to escape back to safer waters.

....

At the newly constructed outpost Sense amidst madness, wit amidst folly, Custodian-Commodore Virgil DeWitt reviewed the reports of the recent clash with a Britannian patrol. It had seen the loss of several highly valuable vessels and although the Britannian losses had been heavier, Virgil was well aware that his enemy had far greater manufacturing, repair and refit facilities than those he had captured. It would not take the Britannians long to recover from their losses where as it would be a long time before so complex a vessel as a Fresnel or Hyperbius could be brought back into action. All this and the area was still unsecure. Virgil sighed and issued standing orders to keep fleet formations ready for battle anywhere. Travel routes were no longer safe, the Britannians were beginning to strike back...

 

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:)

I am playing the bold and daring covenant whilst friend Dave (who I will eventually force into posting on the forum! Yes, you! I know you are reading this!) Is heading the Brits.

Hopefully get the second game in soon (and I might try and convince friend Dave to write it up in this thread...)

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:)

I am playing the bold and daring covenant whilst friend Dave (who I will eventually force into posting on the forum! Yes, you! I know you are reading this!) Is heading the Brits.

Hopefully get the second game in soon (and I might try and convince friend Dave to write it up in this thread...)

You're clearly not prioritising this over life! Lol

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So having finally joined the forums, and being the British player to counter Thamoz's sneaky penguins, it falls to me to recount the next battle. Though I shall start at the end of the first one.

Captain Reginald Harker, formerly of the battle cruiser HMS Earl Grey, paced up and down the deck of the Agincourt gunship which had picked him out of the water. He was perplexed, while loosing a Lord Hood was "normal" he felt he was not going to be popular for the loss of the entire squadron of Devaks. The Raj presence in these waters was small and not to be squandered. Still he had inflicted casualties on the penguins and taken out what he assumed was his opposite number on their irritating flying contraption. He hoped that would be enough to stave off a court marshal.

Meanwhile, back at fleet command Admiral Sir George Aubrey, the commander of the Britannian forces was discussing an intelligence briefing with his second in command Vice Admiral John Ramage, Earl of Blazey.
GA "It says here that in the last few engagements our forces have noticed a feebleness from the enemies drones"
JR "Really sir? That's unusual, they are normally tricky to deal with. Still, the intelligence could be off, it wouldn't be the first time."

An aide rushes into the room, handing Sir George a note.

GA "The penguins are on the march again! A fleet has been sighted heading west from their main stronghold. I think it's time we took the fight to them, yes?"
JR "Absolutely sir."
GA "I'd like you to take the Queen Elizabeth and a fleet to intercept them. What ships do you want?"
JR "I think a standard battle fleet should suffice, besides I want to try the improved shields on the Queen Elizabeth and one of the regent carriers."
GA "A good point, but I can spare you maybe two other squadrons?"
JR "In that case sir, some of our Raj allies would be useful. Some Veeren corvettes and just in case intelligence was right a Jhasa carrier to capitalise on aerial superiority."
GA "Excellent, that's settled. I'll have the orders for you shortly. Good hunting and God Speed."

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Now for the actual battle:

Vice Admiral Ramage gazed out the window on the bridge of the HMS Queen Elizabeth at the approaching covenant fleet. It was a mixed bunch, some unit's he'd faced regularly, others less often. He almost smiled when he saw the silhouette of an Aristotle Battleship, they were always worth a shot at prizing. The Diophantus carrier looked, different somehow, maybe some extra armour or a sneaky upgrade. Adjusting he glass he brought the enemy medium squadrons into focus, three Cleomedes cruisers, a Fresnel and a squadron of Keplers! He was glad he brought the Raj carrier along. The smaller ships were difficult to make out, but he thought it looked like some heavy destroyers and frigates, no corvettes?! This was unusual for the Covenant, maybe there was something afoot? The force did feel smaller than some he had faced, certainly in numbers, while the Diophantus had clearly been upgraded, extra bits of it were visible the closer it got. Still no matter to battle.

Having ordered the battle cruiser Lord Sandwich and a squadron of Attacker frigates forward into the cover of islands John Ramage formed up the fleets battle line. Keeping the Tribal cruisers and Veeran corvettes on his starboard. The Swifts, carriers and planes on his port he prepared to face down the enemy. Having surveyed the battlefield he decided the Covenant medium squadrons were the most dangerous and possibly the best target. (Photo after deployment)

Turn 1

The Britannian spotters managed to get a bead on one of the Keplers hiding behind an island which the Jhasa bombard turned into critical damage, though the Regent couldn't quite find the target. A good mark for the Raj, Ramage thought. The British cruisers stormed forward and did a couple of critical hits on the lone Fresnel before the Cleomedes cruisers threw themselves between it and the Britannian fleet. The Attacker frigates got ahead of themselves and went for some of the Covenant ships only to be blown out of the water one after another. The British corvettes seeing their fate stayed hidden behind islands and  the larger ships, their captains having seen many a colleague vaporised by the particle accelerators of the Covenant.

Casualties on both sides but still plenty of fight left. Turn 2 onwards tomorrow.post-6809-0-87689000-1444512963_thumb.jp

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... meanwhile...

 

Custodian-captain Enrico Basilica was not a man to lead from the front. He was cautious, careful and a firm believer in the value of aggressive tactics... so long as he was not far away. He had risen to command a Fresnel class gunship with rapidity and had frequently been given command of small flotilla of ship. Whilst the ill fated Samuel Heckette was dueling the British Vice Admiral Ramage, Basilica had been sent on a vital mission. Virgil DeWitt, supreme commander of the 42nd Farstrike assault fleet, realising that his forces required more supplies and manufacturing resources than even the teleportation technology of the Covenant could provide, was preparing a lighting attack to seize control of nearby British coastal city and port. Such a strike needed to catch the enemy unawares and must not be intercepted by enemy patrols. Basilica had been tasked to clear the path of attack and drive off the forces that were known to occupy the nearby area. This patch of ocean had already claimed the life of Custodian-captain Narishma, Basilica was keen not to repeat his mistakes. He arranged his fleet carefully, using fast picket squadrons of corvettes to locate the enemy and taking advantage of the support abilities of the Hippasus battlecruiser to redeploy the majority of his fleet when his quarry had been run to ground. So it was that when his force encountered a roving Britannian and Raj patrol fleet he was able to bring his far-flung forces into battle ready formation and engage his opposite number far from the route of the main attack fleet.

The foe was a fierce one, Stalwart heavy destroyers and Veeran corvettes used island cover to project control over one flank, whilst a specialist squadron of Tribals and an Agincourt held the other. At the centre of the British line, ahead of the main fleet, a pair of Apollo support carriers maintained a formidable aerial presence whilst a hulking Canda monitor held command, its devastating cannon towering over the carriers and supported by a squadron of Orion destroyers.

Across from this force the Covenant vessels had deployed exactly as Basilica had commanded. His Fresnel squadrons, temporarily shielding 2 full squadrons of Diogenes frigates, held the left flank opposite the Stalwarts and Veerans. On the right flank, covered by islands, were two squadrons of Thales corvettes with the Hippasus maneuvering ahead, ready to activate its key generator. In the centre, ready to swing to whichever flank would require support, was a squadron of Plato light cruisers. As shield generators sparked to life and wings of aircraft began to fill the sky Basilica signaled his drone-control officer. With no carrier of his own in the fleet he would have to make do with what little support could be sent ahead of the main attack force. They would be fighters of course, the only option really. Command had issued warnings that, due to the experiments taking place at their new outpost, drone control signals had begun suffering strange... faults. Basilica had no wish to rest his plans on an unreliable drone network so the fighters would be used to fend off the worst of the enemy dive bombers whilst delaying the inevitable surrender of aerial superiority.

The first actions of the engagement were not dramatic: recon elements from the enemy forces buzzed about, giving Basilica a itch of trepidation, whilst the fey generators of the Hippasus battle cruiser warped reality asunder, opening a teleportal ahead of the Thales squadrons. Aware of the tremendous threat proffered by enemy Stalwart heavy destroyers, the awesome energy arrays of the Fresnel gunships were focused on the two lead vessels. Lances of energy struck the hapless craft, and this was shortly followed by waves of Diogenes torpedos. As the smoke cleared, only a single Stalwart remained. Basilica's instincts about the enemy recon planes proved well grounded, as from behind a massive island a rain of devastating shot fell upon his command vessel. The enemy's targeting proved poor however, as the nearby ocean suffered the worst of the attack.

Such was not the luck of the Hippasus however, as the Orion squadron drew line towards the vital vessel. The torpedo salvo tore through the water and the hull with equal ease and, with jolly bad luck, found an ammunition magazine. Explosions ripped through the delicate vessel but somehow the ship kept afloat. Responding, the Plato cruisers steamed to support the battered right flank and opened fire on the Orions, sending one down to a watery grave whilst damaging two others.

Seeing their window of opportunity, the first Thales squadron sped into the teleportal. Sailing through the warp of space and time they appeared deep within the enemies line and made straight for the enemy command ship: the Canda monitor. Their turrets smashed the rudder of an Apollo support carrier as their reckless Iron men leapt into the sky. Ferocious ack-ack cut down many of the robots but a strong force made it onto the ship. Resistance proved formidable however and the assault was soundly beaten back.

Panicked by the sudden arrival of the Thales, the Britannians moved their cruiser squadron to occupy the teleportal. They were too large to go through, but could almost totally block up the exit. The strange nature of the portal however rendered their weapons barely effective, their shots failing to either finish the Hippasus or do more than slightly damage the lead Plato.

Denied their safe teleport, the second Thales squadron sped between Hippasus and Plato to finish off two Orions.

Whilst the Veeran corvettes shot towards the cruiser-cluttered flank the tiny aircraft above jockied for position, the drones moving slowly and avoiding being engaged by the enemy fighters.

Medical-repair facilities hastily activated onboard the teleported Thales corvettes began reinforcing the numbers of Iron men ready for a second assault whilst the remaining Orion sailed bravely against the foe. The orion could not cause the damage it needed to, but the Thales Iron Men certainly could. Turrets damaging a Stalwart, the Thales again launched an assault on the Canda. This time, ack ack did not save the ship. The Iron men ran roughshod over the remaining defenders and derelicted the towering vessel, killing the Britannian commodore and reducing the fleet to chaos. Squadrons broke in every direction, panic claiming all but the Tribals and Agincourt. In such a state the enemy fleet could not defend against the Covenant weaponry. Diogenes frigates tore apart the remaining Stalwart and sunk an Apollo, the other falling prey to the Fresnel energy arrays. Plato gunnery smashed apart the Veeran squadron. The aerial war saw an enemy fighter squadron fall from the sky, however all the drones shortly followed. Whilst there was no carrier able to launch more, drone controller reports noted that of the ten drones which had been destroyed, 7 had sent a strange feedback surge along the control frequency which had burnt our circuits and scattered control commands. Several Thales vessels were lost to the enemy, and a Plato cruiser was destroyed by the Tribals and Agincourt, but the loss of their commodore had allowed Basilica almost free reign for too long. As squadrons rallied themselves and command priority was restored it proved too late. A Tribal fell to Plato guns and the last remaining Veerans were destroyed by Diogenes torpedos. the only significant loss to the Covenant came as, overconfident that threats had been neutralised, the Hippasus limped forward to try and finish the enemy. Their moment upon them, Britannian dive bombers fell upon the hapless ship, destroying it totally before fleeing homewards, along with the remaining Tribal and Agincourt, to report their loss.

With victory achieved and the seas clear, Enrico Basilica sent word to the main fleet. His forces would rendezvous and together they would attempt the capture of the Britannian harbour. This would prove a key battle in the future of the Sunda Strait...

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The war for the Sunda Strait had had a terrible cost for both sides. Though the Britannians had suffered the greater, the Covenant armada was operating far from their territorial waters and each loss hit them hard. The 42nd Farstrike armada had begun to realise the deleterious effect their experiments were having on their remote controlled drones, culminating in the crushing defeat of Controller-Commander Samuel Heckette aboard the Diophantus class dreadnought CNS Liveware Problem along with almost his entire fleet. Heckette himself, a veteran and 2nd in command of the 42nd Farstrike Armada, had died at the hands of the Britannian forces under Admiral Ramage. The loss from that battle accounted for more than an eighth of the total forces available to the Covenant.

Facing an attrition rate that would inevitably lead to their defeat, the remaining high command of the Covenant armada devised a plan to capture vital Britannian repair and refit facilities near the town of Sumur. Enrico Basilica, at that time merely a flotilla captain in the Covenant navy, lead the forward elements of the fleet to sweep away Britannian patrols and stop them intercepting the strung out assault fleet. Through a series of tactical raids and probes, the Covenant forces drew the final defending force out of their harbour and away from coastal defences. Admiral Ramage, recently commended for his glorious victory over the Covenant aggressors, lead his forces out to destroy what he thought to be opportunistic raiding parties. Instead he found the recently promoted Custodian-Captain Gabriella Maestri and a full battle flotilla from the 42nd Farstrike Armada.

Due to the events of August 1883, records of the battles that took place become more and more difficult to acquire and are frequently incomplete of damaged when they are eventually found. Britannian records of this battle reveal little more than the forces under Admiral Ramage's command. Thus we must rely on the reports sent via wireless transmission to the Covenant outpost Sense amidst madness, wit amidst folly, and thus on to Wells Chasm in Antarctica. The inherent bias should be clear in these reports, however the end result of the engagement is indisputable.

 

 

Reports dated 17th of July, 1883

Recovered from the ruins of Wells Chasm military archives, 1903. Transcribed from Covenant storage device by Henry Templeton, 1905.

 

FROM: Custodian-Captain Gabriella Maestri

VESSEL: Aristotle Battleship CNS So Much for Subtlety

TO: Custodian-Commodore Virgil DeWitt

NOTED RECEIVED: 17th July 1883

CONFIRMATION CIPHER: Outpost Sense amidst madness, wit amidst folly.

 

+++

Fleet has recombined and assumed position off the coast of Sumur. Recon confirms that Britannian forces have taken the bait and are approaching.

I have positioned my armoured cruisers ahead of the main fleet, behind the cover of islands. Corvette squadrons cover the port flank, supported by the Hyperbius command flyer whilst the Pericles CNS Problem Child holds the starboard. I have positioned my flag in the centre of the line, alongside a Kepler medium carrier. Basillica holds sub-command of the Fresnel gunship squadron, to the centre-right, and of the Plato and Diogenes squadrons covering them.

Approaching is a sizable Britannian force, it is at least equal to our own. A battle carrier holds their centre and their flag, whilst an Australian contingent of pocket battleship and frigates accompanies it. A Ruler class battleship likewise. A Tribal squadron holds their port flank, with corvettes supporting. Merlins have been spotted in the sky and recon noted a battlecruiser ahead of the main fleet. A squadron of frigates holds their starboard flank.

Drone controllers are reporting the sluggish response of their drones persists even this far from the outpost. They will be used as a fighter screen to keep Britannian pilots off our backs and maybe pick off those Merlins if the chance occurs. My long range superiority should force the enemy to close fast, and then the armoured cruisers can strike at their heart. I know you would say not to be overconfident, that Sam had been rash underestimate his foe. I will not make that mistake.

+++

 

This report, sent just prior to engagement, indicates that knowledge of the drone failures and the link to the Covenant experiments was well known if not understood. It also reveals just how wrong-footed the Britannians had been, baited into the trap set by the Covenant.

 

+++

FROM: Comms Lieutenant James Avery

VESSEL: Aristotle Battleship CNS So Much For Subtlety

TO: Custodian-Commodore Virgil DeWitt

NOTED RECEIVED: 17th July 1883

CONFIRMATION CIPHER: Outpost Sense amidst madness, wit amidst folly.

 

Battle progress report. Enemy battlecruiser was bold, minor damage to flagship. Enemy battlecruiser sunk, target of many vessels. Pericles CNS Problem Child suffered hit to their magazines, major damage and compromised drone-control function. Energy artillery proving effective, enemy is charging forward. Corvette squadron engaged by Attacker class frigates, half of the squadron has been lost. 2nd Corvette squadron moving to intercept. Kepler suffered a sturginium flare, vessel is heavily damaged and translocated to starboard, close to Pericles. Platos and Diogenes have moved to intercept Tribals and Swifts to starboard, covering the damaged carriers. Zenos are beginning to spring the trap, they have moved from behind cover and presented broadside to the enemy battleships whilst turning in for a frontal assault.

Custodian-Captain Maestri has ordered the Hyperbius to remain towards the back of the battle, she hopes to draw the enemy Merlins into range of our drones. The merlins have already been strafing the Zenos, far outside of our reduced ability to strike back at them. She also notes the success of the new enhanced energy turrets installed on the CNS So Much For Subtlety, the new design is allowing us to operate a safer distance from the enemy fleet. The Britannians are closing, and have weathered our energy weapons without significant loss. Our starboard flank is shaking however our centre remains strong and resolute and the aggressive elements of our fleet are approaching their preferred engagement ranges. Further reports to follow.

+++

 

The inherent bias of the junior officer sending this report is clear, however it paints a picture of a brave Britannian admiral engaging a fleet that was well prepared to cope with such a tactic.

 

+++

FROM: Comms Lieutenant James Avery

VESSEL: Aristotle Battleship CNS So Much For Subtlety

TO: Custodian-Commodore Virgil DeWitt

NOTED RECEIVED: 17th July 1883

CONFIRMATION CIPHER: Outpost Sense amidst madness, wit amidst folly.

 

Battle continues. Pricles class CNS Problem Child and Kepler class CNS Misadventure lost with all hands. Enemy fire from Tribal squadron ignited a second magazine explosion aboard the Problem Child and the subsequent explosion tore apart the heavily damaged Kepler. Drone control has fallen entirely upon the flagship. Hyperbius reports critical damage from Merlin attack. This has, however, brought them into dogfights with our drone fighters. 2nd Corvette squadron has closed on the enemy flagship and commenced boarding operations, reports indicate success. Majority of enemy fleet seems to have lost central command and are acting without unity or cohesion. Zeno cruisers have also closed with the enemy and are launching Iron Men onto the Australian Cerberus battleship. Australian squadrons seem to have kept their command channels and are acting with joint purpose.

Custodian-Captain Maestri has ordered all firepower to concentrate on the Ruler battleship.

+++

 

Scholars and military commentators have previously noted the importance placed upon the dominions of the Kingdom of Britannia in the Sunda Strait. The fact that the Australians reacted so quickly to restore their own command structure and act, as the junior Covenant officer says; with cohesion, might indicate that either greater autonomy was given to the Dominion forces of the area or of strife and distrust between them and their Britannian commanders. Certainly Raj forces had suffered greater comparative losses up to this point. It is my belief that the Covenant forces had been trying to sow dissension in the ranks of Britannia and her allies, prioritising the destruction and damage of Raj and Australian ships over those of the Kingdom itself. (To further explore this facet of the war I recommend the works of notable Historian Johan Voss and my own book The Secret Covenant: A treatise on the psychological warfare of the agents of Antarctica available from the Royal Society.)

 

+++

 

FROM: Custodian-Commodore Gabriella Maestri

VESSEL: Aristotle Battleship CNS So Much For Subtlety

TO: Custodian-Commodore Virgil DeWitt

NOTED RECEIVED: 17th July 1883

CONFIRMATION CIPHER: Outpost Sense amidst madness, wit amidst folly.

 

The battle is over, recon elements are observing the remaining Britannian ships as they withdraw. Victory is ours. The larger and more powerful elements of the enemy fleet have been destroyed and their commander slain. My agents found him attempting to abandon his vessel on his own personal transport. He killed two men before they brought him down, If his crew are to be believed then he was the Admiral who destroyed Sam's fleet. I know you prefer us to take commanders prisoner, but I can't help but feel glad they had to kill him.

We have begun securing the harbour and manufacturing facilities close by. It will take a while before they are up and running under our control and will probably take even longer to root out any enemy agents left behind to sabotage our efforts, but at least now we will be able to repair our ships. As we need it too, several Thales corvettes were destroyed by the enemy in addition to prior reported losses. I have a lot of damaged ships here.

I have sent Basilica and what remains of his patrol fleet out to picket the approach to our new facilities. The enemy we faced is broken but they could still be a nuisance if they get themselves organised again.

My drone controllers have sent a report regarding the drop in efficiency and the strange signal flares the drones suffer upon destruction. They are calling it a feedback surge but do note that we suffered far fewer feedback surges than reported by other fleets... maybe operating so far from our outpost attenuated the problem. They successfully brought down the remaining enemy Merlins, however their response time and effective control range is hampering their use as an offensive weapon.

Victory is ours... but it is ringing hollow. I have begun writing letters to the families of those lost on the Problem child and Misadventure as well as my agents. Honestly, when we can get some robot vessel assigned to the 42nd I think I will rest a lot easier.

I will carry out basic repairs then return to Sense amidst madness, wit amidst folly. A permanent defence fleet is going to have to be assigned to this place now, we can't let the Britannians just take it back. I recommend Basilica for command, he has proved himself capable. With the loss of the Problem Child I know we are getting stretched very thin when it comes to command vessel, so I will have my flagship back at base as soon as I can.

+++

 

This final report of the battle, presumably written only hours after the noble Britannians were driven off, shows a rare insight into the mind of a Covenant commander. It also shows that the 42nd Farstrike armada was running out of large and massive vessels with which to command their fleets. After this battle it is speculated that 3 such vessels had been destroyed by enemy action, which does not sound like a crippling blow to a whole armada. However, the Farstrike fleets were renowned for speed and flexibility through the use of large numbers of medium sized craft, with comparatively few command vessels to tie their fleets together. It is possible that the growing need for such vessels forced the Covenant scientists to rush or overtax their creation on the island, and thus the events of August that year.

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I start every battle with the intention to take pics. Then I forget, as the dice start rolling! Level9Red is better at remembering such things (for his report above he kept reminding me to take them).

For a change, a few days ago we had a battle that was not part of the campaign being detailed here, Level9Red using some Italians and myself setting forth with the KoB, and since the fleets we used kinda fit...

 

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The ongoing struggles in the Sunda Strait had drawn the attention of other powers. Covenant Farstrike armadas were usually deployed for lightning raids with definite targets. The razing of Isla de Pinos, the destruction of Teutonic facilities responsible for the invention of the St Michael pattern Metzger, and of course the recapture of Markov from behind Russian Coalition lines. It was very rare for such specialised strike force to occupy territory and defend a position. This unusual behaviour caused several nearby forces, not directly involved in the conflict, to try and stake a claim to the suddenly valuable area. At the eastern gateway to the Sunda Strait, a force from the Italian States was the first to arrive. Sailing as a "diplomatic envoy" the impressive force had raced to beat the competition to their target, using the speed and skilled sailing that was the hallmark of the League. It was an unfortunate accident that saw them arrive at precisely the time and place as Britannian reinforcements, responding to Admiral Aubrey's request for aid in the strait.

 

The Italians commodore, sailing proud on an Affondatore carrier, was perhaps lulled by the apparent small size of the force opposite him. He commanded no less than two Affondatore, a Ballistae sky fortress, 3 Gladius cruisers, a mighty Minerva battlecruiser and a squadron each of frigates and corvettes. How could a single Regent, a mixed squadron of two Tribals and an Agincourt, and a squadron each of Attackers and Swifts hope to best such a formidable force. It was only as the two fleets began to close that his expert reconnaissance pilots spotted the odd wave patterns in the water below them. As they scrambled to alert their command officers, wave upon wave of torpedoes slammed into the hulls of an Affondatore and a Gladius, piercing their shielded hulls. The Italian commodore responded instantly as damage control teams hastened to restore power to his shield generator, ordering scores of Uccisore attack boats to launch from their support vessels. The Kingdom of Britannia had sent a strong submarine contingent, two Vengeance submarines 3 Vanguards and 5 Valiants, but the Uccisore were armed with Italian high-speed torpedoes. The fight under the water would prove as bloody as that above it. Alerted to the presence of the submarine menace the Italian crews rushed to their concussion charge launchers, and as waves of torpedoes continued to strike, no further shots penetrated the fragile ships.

Guns blared as the two fleets engaged, the Kingdom's forces advanced like a wall of fire and steel. The Italians met them with style and speed unmatched, shields flickering in the air and deflecting even the most powerful blasts. Uccisore screened the main force, attempting to shepherd the submarines away from the enemy and causing great damage to the undersea behemoths. Frigates tore around the larger vessels, trying to gain the upper hand. The Attackers struck first, the Cinquedas struck harder. Swifts struck the hardest, seizing their moment and making straight for the enemy command vessel. Panicked, the Italian ack ack gunners filled the sky with flak, killing many fine Britannian marines. The rest were slain by the elite crew of the command vessel, but before the last was killed they caused massive damage throughout the ship. Weakened and with few defenders left to repel boarders, the command ship turned to flee. On the other side of the battle, the second Affondatore let loose with its mighty guns. Two tribals and a Agincourt suffered horrific damage, one sinking and the others barely holding together.

The Valiant submarine squadron had suffered many losses to Uccisore torpedoes, but when they rose above the waves a bare hundred meters from the Minerva the Italian commander quaked. Astonishing accuracy from the ack-ack gunners and the well trained marines managed to repel the boarders, however they never saw the real threat until it was too late. With a titanic crash and the screech of tearing metal the entire aft of the Minerva was lifted clear of the water, ripped apart by the teeth of a Vengeance submarine. The entire back half of the vessel a mangled ruin, the remains of the Minerva sank swiftly beneath the seas, joined soon after by the triumphant Vengeance.

Gladius cruisers, one heavily damaged and with few marines left on board, sped towards the Regent and attempted to claim the vessel as a prize. Resistance was fierce however and the stoic Kingdom marines saw off the assault, only to see Scutum corvettes racing across the sea to launch their own marines onto the Regent battle carrier. Exhausted, the crew of the Regent could do little but surrender to the foreign invaders.

The last gasps of the battle saw the battered Tribals and Agincourt fall the enemy guns, the vanguards on the bottom of the sea thanks to Italian torpedoes and the last Attackers finished by the Ballistae. The second Vengeance rose up from the waves and stoked its engines, eager to be away from the battle but not without striking one last blow. The Italian commodore, turning away from the port flank, had brought his vessel dangerously close to the fleeing Vengeance. Damaged and with barely any remaining marines, the Vengeance's elite soldiers had little difficulty in derelicting the proud vessel.

With the back of their fleet broken, the Italian fleet was forced to retreat from the Straigt. However the Britannians had not fared any better, all of their surface ships had been destroyed and only two Vengeances and 3 Valiants remained operational. Descending to the lowest depths of the ocean, the submarines limped back towards their home port.

The Britannian commodore sent word as soon as his few remaining ships were far enough away from the Italians to be safe: Admiral Aubrey would not be getting his reinforcements as soon as he had hoped...

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