As what would become known as the First War for Armageddon raged a system away, the Dark Angels Strike Cruiser, Pride of the Lion, approached a massive Imperial Fleet. The baroque battleship gracefully fell into formation in the midst of Fleet Admiral Lord Romanoff's Grand Fleet around the third moon of New Trafalgar. The sizeable Imperial fleet had arrived a few days prior. They had quickly moved to form a cordon to block the Arch-Heretic Nagah's fleet from leaving the system. As Romanoff's fleet maneuvered around him, the Arch-Heretic had recognized his dangerous position and brought his ships into a defensive line. Lord Romanoff, fearing that Nagah was trying to lead his Grand Fleet into a trap or minefield, had ordered his ships not to follow. Instead of boldly seizing the initiative, Romanoff had backed the Imperial fleet away and began a long-range gunnery duel. Nagah was now content to engage in small skirmishes as his collection of foul ships continued towards the Armageddon system.
The traitorous Arch-Heretic Nagah's fleet was a motley collection of various ships. The madman had gathered together a vast armada and was en-route to the chaos-besieged world of Armageddon. The corrupted vessels were an affront to the Emperor and the proud ships they once were. Forbidden runes and phrases covered the twisted armored hulls of the Arch-Heretic's fleet. Some of Nagah's vessels had fallen from grace during the Horus Heresy millennia before. These ancient ships had been deformed by exposures to the insidious powers of the warp inside the Eye of Terror. Others had just recently forsworn their oaths after the disaster at the Straits of Anglica. These traitorous craft were mirror images of the loyalist craft under Romanoff's command.
The space surrounding the massive fleets blossomed with spectacular detonations. Sleek Imperial Lighting fighters fought Chaos Swiftdeath fighters in the shadows the looming behemoths. Doomfire Bombers began attack runs on the Imperial fleet and decimated support ships. Marauder Fighters were vaporized by the mighty weapons of Chaos Fleet's capital ships. Ionoclast destroyers engaged in short ranged-duels with rival loyalist flankers.
Despite the sheer numbers and variety of craft on both sides, the battle was dominated by colossal battle cruisers. Traitor and loyalist behemoths fired ship-borne lance weapons into the darkness. The mighty weapons tore easily through void shields and ravaged armored hulls. The darkness within each fleet shimmered as void shields bore the brunt of the relentless onslaught. Loyalists and traitors vessels alike exploded in cataclysmic releases of energy as shields reached their breaking point. Each dying ship briefly gave birth to a small nuclear star that burned brightly.
Brother-Captain Elijah, Master of the Pride of the Lion and Hero of O'mane II, sat inside the bridge of his mighty cruiser. The air on the bridge of the Space Marine warcraft was thick with the smell of burning incense. Chapter serfs and tech-priests scurried back and forth conducted various rituals and incantations. Fleet Lord-Admiral Romanoff's pudgy visage loomed on the main vid-screen.
"Admiral, we can cripple Nagah by intersecting the Chaos fleet along this axis," said Elijah. The Brother-Captain gestured to the combat holo-screen in front of him.
"All that is required is that we disable one of their heavy cruisers," he continued. "It would have to be done from within the ship. Nagah would be quick to react if we attempted otherwise."
"Fleet-Commissar Ragnick disagrees with your disposal. He and my staff feel the Fleet would be trapped by both flanks of Nagah's fleet if we fail," said Admiral Romanoff.
"Our Tech-Adepts estimate we have only a 5.25% chance of success with this plan," interrupted Commissar Ragnick on the command frequency. "It is better that we trust in the Emperor's protection than rely on some ill-conceived boarding action. The Emperor demands that we face the enemy in glorious combat. We should stop this cat-and-mouse game and engage Nagah's fleet head on. Any other course of action would allow the heretic's a chance to escape from His Righteous Wrath."
"Admiral, with all due respect, we are Space Marines of the Dark Angels Chapter. We will not fail. With or with out your approval, I will act in the best interest of the Imperium," said Elijah. "When we are successful, we will have split Nagah's forces in half with minimal risk to your precious capital ships."
"Inquisitor Zeitzler, what ." began Romanoff.
A massive nearby explosion rocked the bridge of the Pride of the Lion. Nearby, the Imperial frigate, Holy Retribution, was struck dead center by an enemy plasma torpedo. The missile exploded in a burst of super-heated energy, overwhelming the doomed craft's void-shields. The white-hot flame burned its way through the spaceship's hull. The frigate's was engulfed in a ball of energy thousands of meters across. The nuclear explosion caused a momentary flickering as the Pride's void shield absorbed the blow.
The Inquisitor's face flickered into view as power returned. His sharp, drawn face was a contrast to Romanoff's corpulent features. "I agree with the Brother-Captain. His Deathwing marines are the best Terminators the Imperium. They have a better chance of success than normal Naval boarding troops and armsmen. However, my own calcu-servitors have run several rituals on this scenario. Their incantations have identified a target with a higher chance of success."
The Inquisitor's visage was replaced by a three-dimensional tactical image of the surrounding battle. The image zoomed in on a Desolator-Class Battleship. "This ship's long-range weaponry is the anchor of Nagah's left wing," resumed Inquisitor Zeitzler. "Disabling this ship would unbalance the traitor fleet and allow our forces to push through and divide the enemy forces. I say we have the mighty Adaptus Astartes board and disable this ship instead."
"However," continued the Inquisitor, "This ship, like most of its class, has an extensive anti-teleportation system. Such an attack would have to be done by boarding torpedoes. Therefore, the vaunted Astartes under the Brother-Captain are the only troops capable of the task."
"Very well, Inquisitor. You have convinced me. We shall defer to your tactical advisory," said Romanoff.
"Brother-Captain," sneered Romanoff. The Admiral made sure to accentuate the disparity of rank as he addressed the marine. "The Fleet shall launch a massive torpedo attack to mask our intentions," said Romanoff. "Once the ship is disabled we shall drive through them. Nagah's fleet will be ours. Brother-Captain, prepare your men. My decision is final."
"Nagah's tainted vessels are an abomination. The Emperor demands justice. Although I do not agree with Inquisitor Zeitzler's reliance on theoretical incantations, it is a decisive action after this stalemate. Let it be done," agreed Commissar Ragnick. The commissar's face changed as some of the ingrained haughtiness left it. "May the Emperor bless you and your efforts, Brother-Captain. Good luck."
"Thank you Fleet-Commissar. As you have ordered, Fleet-Admiral. We shall launch our attack with in thirty standard minutes," said Elijah as he signed off.
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Onboard his mighty cruiser, Inquisitor Zeitzler smiled. Arrogant Marine, he thought. We lose nothing by sacrificing you and your men. The glory of this victory shall be ours. He turned towards his acolyte. Zeitzler signaled for him to open up a secure link directly to Romanoff. We have much to discuss, thought Zeitzler as he allowed himself a wolfish grin.
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