Battle Report (Tabletop)

Imperial Navy suffers disaster at Hegira

With the Blessed Ignorance unable to change course, Da Butcher strikes at its victim's undefended stern.

With the Blessed Ignorance unable to change course, Da Butcher strikes at its victim’s undefended stern.

The Hegira Disaster was an Imperial Navy defeat suffered on 3 242 735.M41 in the Sculptor System of the Corvus Cluster.

The battle involved a single Kill Kroozer, commanded by the infamous Kaptin’ Stompafist, that destroyed an entire Imperial Navy flotilla of seven ships. The defeat overturned the balance of power between Imperial and xeno forces in the planetary system and ensure that military operations in the region would continue for years.

The initial deployment of naval vessels at the start of the crisis.

The initial deployment of naval vessels at the start of the crisis.

Military activity began when a naval patrol deployed between Sculptor II and III [Destroyer Squadron #1921, code named “Red Squadron”] reported the appearance of an unidentified ship on its long-range scanners.

When the unidentified vessel failed to respond to challenge on Imperial frequencies, the squadron’s commanding officer, Commander Tomas Logan, reported the potential threat to the Hegira Defense Command and ordered his three Cobra-class destroyers to an intercept course.

Eight hours later, scanners determined that the target was likely a xeno vessel–its erratic energy signature suggestive of an ork vessel. This information was quickly communicated to Hegira, as well as to the closest senior commander in the area, Captain Cayo Horner, of the Tyrant-class cruiser, Blessed Ignorance.

With Imperial authorities on full alert, the Blessed Ignorance left orbit around Hegira and plotted an intercept course with the xeno vessel. At the same time, a two-frigate squadron [Firestorm Squadron #1875, code named “Lexus Squadron”] altered course from its patrol between Sculptor I and II and rushed to the impending battle.

The tactical situation at this point was not optimal–but it was not untenable, either, military analysts later determined.

“It is true that the naval forces in the area were widely separated,” observed retired naval captain, Khrysdam Alrod, a military scholar at the Nguyen Naval Base, Belliose System.

“It was within standard tactical protocols for destroyer and frigate squadrons to be independently patrolling the space surrounding Hegria–indeed, their patrols were why Captain Horner had warning of the ork ship’s approach.”

“The tactical challenge,” Alrod added, “was to consolidate the Imperial naval forces before the ork ship reached Hegira.”

This consolidation was under way as the ork ship approached, but several asteroid fields complicated the Imperial linkup. And the commander of the ork vessel, later determined to be the self-styled Kaptin’ Stompafist of the Kill Kroozer, Da Butcher, proved a wily tactician who utilized the surrounding space debris to his advantage.

Da Butcher suddenly turns away from the Imperial attack and strikes at the weak destroyer squadron.

Da Butcher suddenly turns away from the Imperial attack and strikes at the weak destroyer squadron.

As the various ships closed, it appeared that the initial clash would be between the two cruisers, and the Blessed Ignorance had begun turning its prow in preparation of a broadside as the Kill Kroozer advanced. Meanwhile, the destroyer squadron was advancing from the opposing side edge of a nearby asteroid field with the goal of maneuvering behind the ork vessel.

This maneuver aligned perfectly with Imperial tactical doctrine, but as Da Bucher appeared ready to barrel toward Hegira and into the Blessed Ignorance‘s broadside, the ork vessel undertook a series of sharp maneuvers to angle away from the Blessed Ignorance and use the asteroid belt as a screen.

Imperial destroyers face their doom when confronted with Da Butcher.

Imperial destroyers face their doom when confronted with Da Butcher.

The Blessed Ignorance accelerated to maintain its field of fire and rake the ork ship with a broadside, but Da Butcher outraced Captain Horner’s vessel  and put the asteroids between the two ships just seconds before the Imperial cruiser fired.

This proved a decisive moment in the battle, as the approaching destroyers found themselves accelerating straight toward the vastly better-armored and armed xeno ship. Not hesitating in their service to the Emperor (and having no alternative anyway), the destroyers charged at the ork vessel and fired a barrage of weaponry that–while it took down the Kill Kroozer’s shields and caused minor hull damage–did nothing to curb the ork vessel’s combat ability.

In return, Da Butcher fired a series of broadsides and prow weapon volleys that destroyed all three destroyers.

With three ships destroyed–and having maneuvered out of the Imperial trap–the ork ship fired its main thrusters and put a significant distance between itself and the Blessed Ignorance, which was struggling to come to a new heading that would confront the ork ship. Recognizing the futility of pursuit, Captain Horner ordered an sharp course correction and turned his cruiser toward Hegira.

More than 12 hours had passed since the ork ship was first detected, and the two opposing cruisers raced toward the beleaguered moon of Sculptor II. It took another three hours before combat again was initiated.

That combat began as Da Butcher beat the Imperial forces to the moon. Da Butcher mad a high-speed swing around the moon, launching a host of landing craft at the planet. Planetary defense systems managed to shoot down a significant number, yet it was estimated that as many as 10,000 orks made planetfall.

Da Butcher races to Hegira while Imperial forces struggle to regroup.

Da Butcher races to Hegira while Imperial forces struggle to regroup.

As Da Butcher passed the planet, two Imperial frigates, The Audacity and The Valiant, approached the ork vessel and fired their prow lances. One strike managed to cripple Da Butcher‘s engines momentarily, but apparently the ship’s Mekboyz repaired the damage quickly. The Audacity, unfortunately, strayed into the arc of Da Butcher‘s prow gunz and was destroyed.

Da Butcher and Blessed Ignorance trade fire, with both ships suffering critical hits to bridge or engine room.

Da Butcher and Blessed Ignorance trade fire, with both ships suffering critical hits to bridge or engine room.

As Da Butcher swung past Hegira and directly into the path of the Imperial forces, the Blessed Ignorance finally brought the ork vessel under its guns. An exchange of fire saw both ships damaged, but a lucky prow shot from the ork ship destroyed the maneuver controls of Blessed Ignorance. The Imperial ship was unable to turn!

This proved the critical strike of the battle. Forced to maintain its course, Captain Horner could only watch in horror as Da Butcher swung behind his vessel–free to pulverize the Blessed Ignorance without fear of the Imperial cruiser’s weaponry. And the ork vessel soon began a ruthless bombardment of the crippled ship.

Blessed Ignorance and The Valiant finally lose their gallant fight.

Blessed Ignorance and The Valiant finally lose their gallant fight.

As the ork ship moved in for the kill, The Valiant struggled to do what it could to save its sister ship. As Da Butcher swung behind the Blessed Ignorance, The Valiant swung behind the Kill Kroozer, striking at the ork vessel’s rear with its lance and causing serious damage to Da Butcher‘s stern section.

It was not enough, however. After an hour of highly inaccurate fire, Da Butcher finally wore down the shields and armor of the Blessed Ignorance,  which eventually lost power and went silent. The ork vessel then turned on  The Valiant, destroying it as well.

But The Valiant did not die without achieving some vengance. Its last lance shot struck the Kill Kroozer’s bridge–killing Stompafist as he gave the order to destroy the Imperial frigate. If nothing else, a highly dangerous xeno foe has been removed.

Postscript: With the destruction of The Valiant, military operations ended in Hegira space. Da Butcher returned to Hegira orbit and launched additional landing craft at the planet, exchanged fire with ground-based defense systems, and then left orbit and disappeared into the nearby asteroid  fields. The ork vessel’s location currently is unknown.

Military authorities still are attempting to analyze the long-range impact of this naval disaster. While the ork landings are causing turmoil for ground forces on Hegira, the Imperial naval presence in the Sculptor System has been severely depleted. There also is concern that Da Butcher may have sent boarding parties to the destroyed Imperial ships in an attempt to salvage them to xeno use.

STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT – SCULPTOR SYSTEM DEFENSE

EST 11/260 IMPERIAL WRATH – FLAGSHIP FLEET CORVUS
3853/15.01
INPUT DATE: 255 735.M41
INPUT CLEARANCE: Senior Command
AUTHOR: Commodore Gadea Hennard
TRANSMITTED: Imperial Wratch, Sculptor System
TRANSMITTER: Astropath Mariel Guilliman

The losses at Hegira pose a significant threat to Imperial control of the Sculptor System. With nearly half my flotilla destroyed, it is impossible to an deploy adequate number of vessels to contain the xeno threat at both Hegria and Dar Sai.

Outnumbered, I must employ the tactics outlined by Grand Admiral Cusatis in M36: Faced with two military threats, I shall strike at one enemy in hopes of victory–so that I am then free to face the other. (Yes, Admiral Dinola, I have read the Tactica Imperialis.)

This course of action is dangerous in the extreme. Failure will leave Scupltor System defenseless against further xeno activity. But given our desperate strategic situation, simply maintaining a defensive posture is even more dangerous. I shall strike at the Tau on Dar Sai immediately.

TheGM: What an interesting turn of events. The scenario was designed so that the orks could win by firing boarding torpedoes at Hegira (ie. landing craft), and I didn’t expect the Kill Kroozer to actually defeat the Imperial Navy. But, as that possibility began to arise, I was excited by the potential of a new ork commander entering the campaign–and the ork warlord on Hegira, Rumlar, facing a rival.

The death of Stompafist–in a manner similar to Nelson at Trafalgar–only sweetened the battle’s play. In honor of Stompafist’s achievements, he now has a biography: Ork Kaptin’ Stompafist.

Hidden humor: The commander of Imperial naval forces was our friend, Rick Horner. So, in  a play on words, I made the “historical” commander of this battle Cayo Horner–according to Wikipedia, Cayo is a Spanish variation for Richard in Guatemala. So I tried a bit of wordplay in this battle report. (Perhaps I should have titled this entry “very weak attempt at humor.”)

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