EFS Taskforce Itomori:
Artemis-class Cruiser EFS Adamant
Tsukuyomi-class Cruisers EFS Repulse, Revenge and Resolute
Nephthys-class Destroyers EFS Jupiter and Juno
Chandra-class Frigates EFS Crisis, Critic and Castle
AISN Forward Group 3185:
Meridiel-class Cruisers AISN Fiora Froleya and Caldis Varden
Chiithan-class Destroyer AISN Dethan
Irivel-class Frigates AISN Mabaris, Cavaris, Theliris and Levitris
March 2146, three months into the Astoran invasion of human space. While the Itomori system is a relatively lightly populated one and would seem to be a reasonable buffer between the advancing Astorans and vital EFS infrastructure, its numerous gas giants are strategically significant mining operations. A reinforced cruiser group, led by Commodore Tachibana, had been sent by the Earth Fleet to defend Itomori – and had been waiting several days to see action.
Tachibana’s fleet encountered what was presumed to be an Astoran patrol on the 23rd March; a small flotilla of Irivel frigates was detected by long-range sensors on the cruiser Adamant, and the decision was made to advance into the magnetic clouds on the system’s edge to investigate. There, Tachibana encountered – apparently with the element of surprise – a small Astoran task force. Battle was joined…
Captain Lacheisis Froleya was dreaming about how one day she might possibly live up to the reputation that had seen her mother have a ship named after her. It wouldn’t be through one great coup of glory, but through steady diligence and advancement-
“Captain.” The voice was loud enough, stern enough, to wake her. “You are needed.”
“I gave… Morai the bridge… report to the-”
“Captain Froleya, this is First Lieutenant of the Third Watch Morai. You ordered me to report if anything changed. Things have changed.”
The bed – luxurious, for Froleya’s rank of captain granted her a proper mattress – was still warm enough that impending doom could wait. “Get the admiral.” The door slid open again and there was a click of heels on metal floor.
“Captain. Lieutenant Morai woke me… five minutes ago. I will meet you on the bridge, as I suspect you are not dressed.”
“I sleep lightly at the best of times, Captain, doubly so when I realise you have somehow scheduled both mine and your rest shifts concurrently. While I trust Morai to keep this vessel’s crew in line, had she the imagination and intelligence to command a task force she would not be a lieutenant at her age.”
Froleya’s eyes slid off the screen before her into the depths of her drink and snapped back up. Maddeningly, Admiral Deltas was wide awake and standing alert, gazing icily into the middle distance as he did so often.
“The captain is apparently indisposed. Report, Morai.”
“Our long-range sensors have picked up an approaching third-planet fleet, we suspect they caught our frigate patrols. However, we-”
“You have reported enough. Try not to think too much.” Deltas sketched some courses on the star-chart, and began sending orders to the remainder of Group 3185. “Froleya!”
“What would you do here? Nine third-planet vessels approaching. We have the firepower advantage. We have the advantageous position. If we did not engage, they would likely not find us in this magnetic storm. While they were lost in the storm, we could-”
“Is this a test, Admiral?”
“I do not follow.” Deltas had instinctively folded himself into an awkwardly casual pose, leaned against the tactical table, a strand of his silver-blue hair worked free from its lacquered cousins. “Of course it is a test. Everything, every decision you make, is a test.”
“If we do not engage our enemies we are cowards in the name of the Emperor-”
“If we engage our enemies and lose, we throw away a potential advantage in a fruitless battle.”
“If we were to send out our frigates to attack their mines while their fleet is committed-”
“If they have not committed their whole fleet, will the frigates be enough?”
“Order an advance, ahead half thrust, and get me another drink.”
While Froleya tried to disappear into a comfortable captain’s chair in embarrassment at what was going to happen next, Deltas stood up, clenched his fist and, checking briefly that his hair looked appropriate, addressed the fleet.
“A few words as we begin this operation; as you may know, this vessel is named for a great woman, and an officer I have always respected, the esteemed Admiral Fiora Froleya, whose daughter now takes the helm…”
While there was little firepower on the first turn as the fleets entered the battlefield – the Earth Alliance moving significantly faster than the more cautious Astorans – the EFS Revenge managed to get an early shot from its long-range neutron laser off at the the AISN Fiora Froleya and inflicted a point of damage. In return, the Astorans opened fire with antiproton beams, and scored a minor hit on the EFS Critic for 2 damage.
The EFS Adamant fired a salvo of torpedoes from its launch tubes, with five on target – however, after the AISN Dethan’s point defence gunners were finished only four damage went through. It was enough to force a Threshold check, though, and the Dethan’s shields were damaged as well as its port broadside.
The fleets closed on each other, the Resolute and Repulse swinging out wide to outflank the Astorans while the Revenge held its course to attack the closing Fiora Froleya. The shooting phase opened with the frigate Critic scoring a glancing hit on the Froleya, which in return put five damage on the Revenge and three on the Castle with its broadsides. The Crisis and Castle added their own guns to the barrage, putting four more damage on the Froleya and knocking out its prow weapon and shield generator in the process! In the Astoran second line, the cruiser Caldis Varen was in rage for speculative shots on the Revenge, Crisis, Castle and Juno – its vast array of guns and gunners proving useful – but scored no good hits.
The Irivels opened fire, inflicting light damage on the Revenge, and then the Dethan – weathering the incoming fire – tore into the Castle and knocked out its engines and one of its beam turrets.
Astoran damage control teams were able to get the Froleya’s shields back online, but both fleets were definitely blooded.
The Astorans continued their slow advance, shields holding; a second salvo of torpedoes from the Adamant took five more damage off the Froleya, and its guns subsequently knocked out the Dethan’s starboard broadside and one of its sub-weapons. In return, the Dethan scored five hits on the Repulse and one on the Revenge. The Revenge stayed the course, though, and inflicted five damage on the frigate Theliris.
The Theliris and Levitris displayed typical Astoran efficiency in returning fire; the Castle was torn apart by an accurate antiproton shot from the Levitris, while the Theliris scored a lucky hit on the Revenge, taking out its engines and fire control.
The Resolute was able to take the Levitris out in return, but it looked too late for the Revenge. And then the Froleya opened fire, gutting the Resolute’s engines and main gun and carving nine hull from the Repulse as it fired all but ineffectually on the Dethan and frigate Cavaris. The Tsukuyomis were looking in a poor state, and it took little for the Caldis Varen to finish them both with its broadsides – with a little help from the Mabaris.
By the start of turn 4, the EFS ships were looking distinctly weak; the few surviving Chandras had mostly lost their fire-control systems to Astoran cruiser fire, the Adamant had run out of torpedoes and the Caldis Varen was completely undamaged. The Nephthys destroyers made a valiant charge to attack it, but their weapons proved ineffective against its shields and before the combined broadsides of the two Meridiels they lasted mere minutes. As the Irivels finished off the crippled Chandras, the Adamant’s captain decided the best course of action was to surrender to the Astorans, another system fallen to the invading armada…