Fleet Movements 2698
During April of 2698, as Tanaka was moving from Lanzet to Henka, he was informed that his picket squadrons had detected Daviont’s isolated corps at Talison on the frontier of the Baedeker cluster. Tanaka sent the Fifth Fleet to engage Daviont, hoping to trap and destroy him, and perhaps Wakkat’s corps, which was moving in from the north to link up with Daviont's corps. Tanaka detached one division of capital ships, and the bulk of the second marine army and its support vessels from the Fifth Fleet at Eban’s Drift to cover Tanaka’s left flank. Admiral Hester’s Seventh Fleet deployed to the south near Mansen’s Star to cover Tanaka’s southern flank.
Daviont left the 65th Battleship Division to hold Baedeker starsystem while he led the remainder of his corps in a southeasterly direction down the east face of the Bara nebula in an attempt to close up with Wakkat while Tanaka was sailing north toward Daviont’s last reported position. The Terran line of march was not well organized and the Terran third fleet clashed with Motan, Giun, and Hillamon in the Siia starsystem and the Phragen system. The ensuing action resulted in the routing of two Terran battleship divisions.
Meanwhile, Admiral Rosenberg’s Fourth Fleet encountered Montoc’s cruiser squadrons near Kalinta Crossing but could not make any headway until later in the month when Montoc's cruisers deliberately withdrew. By the end of April Bonate knew that Sebiera and Oniot were moving north from Hondephen and that only two depleted task forces were facing his forces at Eban’s drift. Placing Marshall Naelle who had just arrived from Audria, in command of an ad hoc corps comprised of Motan, Giun, and Jaquin form the Seventh Corps, plus Ytosan and Lupika’s battlecruisers, Bonate took the offensive at Eban’s Drift and rolled back the Terrans a distance of 10 sectors, capturing 4000 ships and destroying an additional 2700. That same week, Daviont held his position at Akmela but was not pressed by Tanaka who had suffered a weeklong illness. During his incapacitation the main Tehran fleet lay motionless as Tanaka’s subordinates’ most notably admirals Green and Winstead, failed to conduct fleet operations.
Further north Barak Tavade, admiral of the 65th battleship division heroically directed his division’s repulse of Terran attempts to seize Baedeker starsystem. However, the 65th eventually was broken and was forced to surrender. The Terran seizure of the strategic Baedeker starsystem gave Tanaka an alternate route of retreat and opened communications with his first and second fleets. However, even with Baedecker in Terran hands, the first fleet was not ordered to rejoin the main battle fleet and was unable to participate in the battles around Baedeker and Akmela.
Near the beginning of May, Bonate mistakenly assumed that the main elements of the Terran Fleet were fleeing toward Lanzet even though he had received Daviont’s report which stated the bulk of the Terran Fleet was before him at Akmela. Dismissing Daviont’s report as a piece of misinformation, Bonate continued the pursuit of the Terran left wing during the first part of May. The Naplians captured Lanzet, during which Admiral Montan, one of Bonate’s aides de camp, personally led the converged battlecruisers of the 117th Starship Division in the reduction of Lanzet Naval Yard. Occupying Lanzet, Bonate ordered Tebian, who had arrived only hours before, to pursue the fleeing Terrans with all available cruisers.
Shortly after Tebian's departure on May 15, Admiral Ripa arrived in Lanzet to personally explain to the emperor the critical situation facing Daviont at Akmela. Bonate listened as Ripa described the combat of the preceding weeks. On Daviont’s left Admiral Branta had blocked the Terran Admiral Victor’s advance along the Bara while containing Lavarev’s battlecruisers near Hoton’s Well. In the center and outnumbered 3 to 1, Naplian Admiral Tanfernav attacked with his entire division and carried the day against the Terrans around Passeneg and Lahara, and then beat back the attacks of Terran Admiral Roberts’ battle fleet. Naplian Admiral Hint’s division wrecked the attacks of Terran Admiral Rosenberg’s command while Wakkat concentrated at Platte’s Shore, protecting Daviont’s right. In sum, Ripa reported that although outnumbered, Daviont’s squadrons held all positions attacked by the enemy and carried the starsystems Daviont intended to occupy. As requested earlier, Daviont asked the emperor to move with all haste and strike the Terrans southern flank around Akmela. Daviont reasoned that Tanaka would be substantially reinforced for the combat which would resume shortly and therefore Daviont repeated his request that the fleets be concentrated at Akmela.
Artwork by Dmitry Borodin and Camilo Aldana
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Artwork by Dmitry Borodin and Camilo Aldana
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