After the unsuccessful attack on the XIN DE TONGLI system both sides in the long-running war seem to have taken time to lick their wounds and regroup, with no major actions. The string of raids against the flank of the theatre, however, have continued and are slowly spreading along the frontier region towards the main area of operations, each side blaming the other. No survivors have been left after any of these raids, neither have any wreckage from the attackers ships been found. Routine patrols in and near the threaten volume by both sides have been increased and reinforced with cruiser squadrons not currently occupied in fleet operations.
For AMREP, the raids escalated seriously when a patrol arrived in a system with a well-established agricultural colony (TIGAN'S WORLD) to find that all the orbital and deep space facilities had been destroyed and the colony wiped out. The estimated death toll was in excess of 1,000,000, including women and children. Such an atrocity had not been seen before in the war with CDSU as both sides have normally sought to capture the potential value of any colonies taken, which needed the colonists.
While the AMREP Fleet Staff were trying to get damaged ships back into service to launch a retaliatory raid, the CDSU planning staff intended to launch a series of attacks on selected targets of strategic value with the aim of further destabilising the enemy and taking advantage of any opportunity that appears. Elements of 3rd Strike Fleet have been tasked to raid an AMREP repair base in the DELTA PAVONIS system.
The CDSU plan (Commanded by Alex) was to draw off mobile defenders from the base area with an initial strike force (photo 2) which arrived some 18hrs flight time from the base. The AMREP admiral (Andy) declined to be drawn however, resulting in action being opened inside the range of the orbital defences (photo 1). However, AMREP also declined to group their ships to meet the approaching threat, resulting in only a third of their operational units being in position to engage the CDSU taskforce.
Initial shots consisted of long-range salvos of drones from the CDSU XINGZI-class destroyers targeting the AMREP NEWMAN-class dreadnaught in the repair yard, mistakenly assuming it was operational, and a direct hit on a PROUDLOCK-class cruiser by the CDSU flagship, although this was stopped by the cruisers shields. The AMREP planetary installations responded by scrambling their fighter wing and responding with drones of their own (photo 3).
As the initial salvoes arrived at their targets a spatial disturbance signalled the arrival of ships from hyperspace on the opposite side of the planet to the growing battle. The CDSU general was expecting a second wave to attack the orbital platforms, while the AMREP Admiral was hoping promised reinforcements would arrive. The AMREP Admiral was disappointed as a second task force of CDSU ships materialised (the result of a dice roll by Alex resulted in the task force arriving ea;rier than planned). However, the CDSU General was equally surprised, however, as a group of unknown ships materialised in essentially the same volume of space (triggered by a roll of 6 by Andy) (photo 4, photo 5). While sensors on the newly arrived CDSU ships were clearing, the AMREP Admiral made a snap decision to order his ships to engage the alien vessels and to seek a truce with the CDSU forces. This proved to be a good call as the alien ships opened fire almost immediately, targeting the closest CDSU ships.. The American ships destroyed two of the smaller alien ships, but several Chinese ships also exploded, making it painfully clear that the aliens do not suffer from the same post-jump sensor blindness that afflicts human ships.
It also quickly became apparent that the alien ships were hard to target as they did not give strong returns on sensors, and that the ships carried extremely powerful weapons for the size of the hulls. Although most of the ships remained close to the second CDSU force, which remained largely static, the smaller ships also demonstrated a very high thrust, enabling them to close the range rapidly on the nearest AMREP ships, which were also taken under fire.
The CDSU ships, mixed in with the aliens, took the brunt of their fire, and got the worst of the exchange with both JINGZI-class dreadnaughts and several smaller ships quickly succumbing. While damage was inflicted on the aliens, Captains remarked that they appeared to be very resilient. The enemy revealed another capability when a salvo of drones was fired at a cruiser-sized alien at very close range. The enemy ship promptly vanished, causing the drones to lose lock and self-destruct. It was not clear what actually happened, although there was speculation about cloaking devices.
The AMREP fighters, redirected to relieve the CDSU ships, swarmed the largest alien (photo 6, photo 7, photo 9) and managed to inflict some damage, but at a heavy cost, with over half the squadrons being lost in the exchange, but enabled the closest AMREP capital ships to engage the aliens (photo 10, photo 12). The initial CSDU force, limited by low thrust, trailed behind, trying to get into the action (photo 11). With the human ships starting to concentrate, and the repair base beginning to inflict damage with its powerful long-range weapons, the aliens jumped out of the system, leaving two very relieved commanders licking their wounds, hoping that they didn't see the alien ships again, and working out how to explain events, especially the truce, to their respective Fleet Commands.
Although a number of alien ships were destroyed, no wreckage could be located, possibly for the same reason that the ships were hard to localise on sensors. After action analysis of sensor records appeared to show hull and engine damage being repaired during the action, although it was not possible to determine how the aliens could temporarily vanish. It was also noted that there was no apparent sign of communications between any of the alien ships that could be detected on the tapes.
Word of the action quickly spread through both Fleets; although not without hitting a lot of scepticism and doubt, with many sceptics claiming the "alien" ships were actually the other side's secret weapons, particularly on the CDSU side given the much heavier losses they had suffered in the action
More challenging still was the political reaction, as both sides' political leaders seemed reluctant to address the possibility of working in cooperation with those holding diametrically opposed political doctrines. The CDSU leadership, particularly seem reluctant to consider any cessation of hostilities due to potential loss of face. Both sides have, however, begun to take unilateral actions in response to their interpretation of events, but these actions have been confused and distorted by the various command levels interpreting instructions through their own view of what actually happened at DELAT PAVONIS.
Destroyed (451 points)
Asteriod defence platform M2
USS ARCHER Hunter-class cruiser (in repair)
USS MARBELHEAD Baltimore-class cruiser (in repair)
Asteriod defence station G1 - minor damage
USS BATAAN Keasarge-class Battleship (in repair) - light
USS TRUXTON Proudlock-class cruiser - critical damage
USS CLAXTON Kincaid-class destroyer - heavy damage
USS TOWERS Oldendorf-class destroyer - heavy damage
Destroyed (1097 points)
PLA(N) TANG Jiangzi-F-class dreadnaught
PLA(N) YUAN Jiangzi-class dreadnaught
PLA(N) LUHI Haitun-class cruiser
PLA(N) LUHU Haitun-class cruiser
PLA(N) WUHAN Chengzu-class battlecruiser - critical damage
PLA(N) MING Chengzu-class battlecruiser - light damage
PLA(N) HOMA Xingzi-class destroyer - heavy damage
Reconstruction from records indicate that 3 of the smallest alien ships were destroyed (252 points). 14 other ships were hit, some multiple times. While it was not possible to assess damage inflicted, it was noted that fire coming from some ships had dropped markedly, indicating potentially heavy damage.
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