The Gathering Storm
With half a million starships and many of their best commanders spread across three theaters of war, the Naplian co-emperors Bonate and Benaltep did not desire yet another front. But the Briddarri raid on the Eission fuel reserves forced the Naplians into a desperate gambit to seize the serjaum fields of Terra. To meet the impending fight with the Terran’s the emperors created a new strategic fleet command around Fleet Marshal Daviont’s vaunted Third Corps which was now stationed in the Baedeker starcluster in northwestern Terra. Benaltep agreed that Bonate would direct operations on the Terran Front.
In addition to his Maripal legions, Bonate created two new corps the 16th and 17th, established the Effari Guard Corps, instructed Admiral Sebiera to lead the Guard Corps from the Svenisch theater towards the Great Dessert Rift, summoned units from Denica, and alerted Toniap’s, Qomiti Fleet to move east. Including Genau and Montoc, Bonate had a proximately 475,000 starships available against the Terran Republic. Of this total, approximately 120,000 warships were colonial vessels and an additional 111,300 ships that had barely completed their training and shakedown cruises. The vanguard divisions were seasoned veteran crews, and their ships were excellent. The orbital artillery arm of bombard class vessels lacked sufficient numbers but was later augmented with captured Audrian bombards in adequate quantities to meet Bonate’s need.
Bonate planned to consolidate his force, officially titled the Desert Rift Fleet, at Bonistan Drift, to the east of the Baedeker systems to meet an attack from any direction. Once concentrated, the fleet would move down the east face of the Bara Nebula where he expected to come into contact with the Terran main force which would no doubt move to protect central Terra from invasion. He planned for the Vanguard squadrons to pin the enemy fleet in situ while the main body flanked and encircled the enemy or compelled them to retire into central Terra, perhaps so far as to abandon the Sol Starsystem.
However, Bonate’s a did not consider the possibility that the Terran’s would strike before his forces were fully concentrated. He chose to remain in Audria until 2695, issuing simple directives to Admiral Tebian who was at the front, telling him to consolidate the main force. During 2695 Tebian showed that he had lost the aggressive spirit he had displayed in the Ffawe Revolution. Blindly following Bonate’s orders for concentration with no regard for enemy movements, Tebian hopelessly confused admirals and generals alike. Finally, at the end of 2695, he sent a message to Bonate suggesting that his presence with the fleet “would be helpful.”
Arrival & Disarray
Bonate crossed the Audrian frontier passing into the Great Desert Rift in 2695. He reached the Terran frontier in 2697. When he arrived at the front, he found the Desert Rift Fleet scattered and in disorder. Daviont’s Third Corps was in and around Baedeker. Oniot’s and Montoc’s corps were to the east of the Leeds systems while Befrell’s back was against the northern flank of the Bara Nebula. The Terran main force under Tanaka was arrayed along the east face of the Bara within two month's travel.
Next... Tanaka Moves North
Artwork by Dmitry Borodin and Camilo Aldana
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