"– Our Emperor deliver us."
It was the start of the dawn of the year 999 of the 41st Millenium, Imperial Navy forces were ordered to send forces to Cadia, in a desperate attempt to stem the flow of Chaos vessels into the system. Intelligence was sketchy at best and did not provide a reason for the selected flashpoint, but only to consolidate and marshal forces to be ready to engage.
Admiral Victoria Nemea's Battlegroup, Battlegroup Imperial Dawn, had been consolidating in the Segmentum Obscurus in the Agripinaa Sector. Her patrol fleet, mainly consisting of 1 Emperor Class Battleship, 1 Overlord Class Battle Cruiser and 2 Tyrant Class Cruisers, now swelled to include 1 more Mars Class Battle Cruiser, 2 more Lunar Class Cruisers and 5 Dauntless Mk. I and II Light Cruisers. She was tasked to bring crucial supplies, reinforcements and convoys to resupply the battered and beleaguered forces fighting on Cadia, then after to join the full might of the Battlefleet Agripinaa in the stalwart defense of the Gate of Cadia.
As the organization of such a fleet was in effect, a large force of chaos vessels exited the warp and went into intercept trajectory. And the Navis Imperialis, the men and women of the Emperor's most vaunted Imperial Navy, with the grit and courage of all of Mankind, went to meet the challenge. Led by Admiral Victoria Nemea, they were all willing to lay down their life for the Emperor.
Admiral Victoria Nemea sat at the command seat on the Roar of Nemea, eyes darting on the data and charts posted on the cogitator in front of her. Her hands clasped together, resting under her chin. Her stance exuding calm and confidence, her face hiding her determination to face the Great Enemy.
She had arrayed her vessels into 3 groups, 2 light assault groups on the flanks. The light assault groups consisted of the light cruisers and frigates. She planned to utilize the asteroid belts to diminish the numerical superiority of the Chaos vessels. The role of the light assault groups was to herd the enemy into the killzone and serve as a screening force. The screening force, as instructed by the Admiral Nemea's unique doctrine, was to harass the enemy frontline and be the focus for enemy fire, allowing the damage dealers to properly target critical systems on enemy vessels to cripple or force them to disengage from the battle.
Her use of unorthodox tactics helped her to secure countless victories against larger foes in battles across the Agripinaa sector. Her successes caught the attention of the Lord High Admiral and led her to gain the charge of a new formation of a Battlegroup.
The right flank was led by Captain Rhys, while the left was led by a newly promoted Captain Borr. The third in the center bearing the main might of the battlegroup was led by the Admiral herself. As she readied herself into a defensive position, portside cannons arrayed, ready to rain the Emperor's barrage against the forces of the Ruinous Powers. She continued issuing orders, ensuring the other captains know their roles in the battle to come.
As she led the battlegroup in battle, she was alerted of a transmission.
"Admiral! The convoy ships just exited the warp south of our location!" the ship's Astropath announced.
Admiral Victoria Nemea perked up and stood her full height, her purpose clear, her stance determined.
"Vox operator! Get me the flagship of the supply ships." Her voice crystal clear, admist the cacophony of the fighting outside, her voice augmented by the modifications she had installed.
The vox operator nodded and yelled in confirmation of a positive connection.
"This is Admiral Victoria Nemea of the Battlegroup Imperial Dawn. How long before you are able to warp jump?"
"This is Captain Titus of the Spirit of Defiance. We require some time to charge up our warp engines. Unfortunately, we cannot support your engagement of the Chaos fleet. My orders are to defend our supply ships and ensure they made it to Cadia."
"I understand Captain Titus. Ensure you do not fail your mission. Take a defensive stance behind our battle line and raise me when you and the troop ships are able to warp. The Emperor Protects."
"Yes, Admiral. The Emperor Protects" The vox connection from Captain Titus was disconnected.
"Vox operator. Send this transmission to all Imperial Ships." The operator nodded in assent.
Taking a deep breath, she started.
"Battlegroup Imperial Dawn, this is Admiral Nemea. Engage the Chaos fleet. Defend the supply ships at all costs. Gird your soul in faith. The Emperor is watching us. Let his glory banish the doubt in our hearts. Let Him not find us wanting. May He guide our guns! May the heretics feel his wrath! Engage the enemy!"
She smirked as she felt the ship shake, the barrage of macro cannons launched into the enemy vessels in range. As ordered, the vessels at the flanks moved to distract the enemy herding them into the killzone. She looked at her cogitators, reporting successful hits on enemy vessels, some effectively crippling enemy ships. The enemy's pride allowed her to effectively entrap the enemy and rain devastation.
"Launch the Starhawk Bombers."
The ensign nodded and the squadrons of Starhawk Bombers carrying Krak warheads launched from the ordinance bays of the Roar of Nemea ready to assault the heretics. It was a spectacular sight, each bomber formed into squadrons and engaging their targets, eager for action and glory.
Admiral Nemea sat back down on her command seat and continued to lead the fleet in combat to destroy the enemy vessels while buying time for the supply fleet to travel to Cadia. Her eye glanced at the newly commissioned Navy Commissar Hanroth, who stood near her side. His hand rested of his chainsword, eyeing the admiral intently. Any whiff of cowardice or incompetence and he would do his duty. Every battle she fought, she prayed that she would do her duty well. She had earned her commission; it would do herself a disservice to fail on that charge.
"Admiral! Augur arrays indicate additional contacts surrounding our fleet" the chief Astropath responded.
"Damnit. Why are there more of them?" Nemea growled under her breath.
She immediately dispatched orders to reorganize her fleet to prepare to engage new the threat. The new vessels, however, were no mere chaos fleet. The grotesque fleet were adorned with skulls, boils and other hedonistic "decorations" to dedicate themselves to their gods. They set themselves into charge trajectory, aiming to capitalize on breaking the thin battle line she had formed.
The fighting was fierce, both sides firing lances and macro-turrets. The Chaos Fleet eager to please their gods. The Imperial Navy, meeting the challenge, each barrage of their macro batteries singing praises to the Emperor. While the battlegroup was able to reorganize themselves and engage the new enemy, it was not without its price. Many ships had taken damage from the devastating volley of Chaos lances.
Though the Imperial ships gave as good as they got, the corruption of the ruinous powers forced its ever potent influence in the engagement. The taint of Nurgle, able to corrode the finest ships of the Imperium. The taint of Tzeentch, disrupting the most accurate of augur arrays. The taint of Slaanesh, corrupting even the most stalwart of men. The taint of Khorne, sending chills down the spine of even the most courageous of leaders. And it has begun to take its toll.
"Admiral! This is Captain Rhys -! My ship is infested by daemons! Chaos troops are on every deck!" Alarms and explosions sounded over the vox transmission. The screams of dying men could also be heard.
With panic clear in his voice, he added "The tech priests are overloading the warp engines! We will destroy the ship and take the enemy with us! It is better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself!"
Not long after, the bridge of the Roar of Nemea shook, the augur arrays registering the loss of a light cruiser. It took out a Chaos Cruiser and 2 escorts.
A death worthy of an Imperial Navy officer. Admiral Nemea thought. He was a damn good captain and a better friend. He will be remembered in the great throne room of Holy Terra. Rest now and join our Master and Emperor by his side.
She shrugged off the thought quickly, knowing her precarious position. The victory and lives resting on this battle depends on her actions. A quick glance at the augur arrays would inform the most ignorant of fools to the situation at hand. The Battlegroup had taken many casualties, and many ships are taking a heavy beating. More and more vox transmissions, each reporting ever worsening conditions of the battle.
We haven't even begun to join the main battle. Damn it.
The Battlegroup Imperial Dawn had lost 4 of its light cruisers and the Pride of Agripinaa – and Overlord class Battle Cruiser. The other remaining ships did not fare any better. The Chaos fleet had double the number she had. Nonetheless, the ships will hold. They must hold.
"This battle is lost! We must disengage!" the vox sounded.
"Don't you dare! Commissar! Do your duty!" Nemea ordered, enraged.
"As the emperor wills." The baritone voice of the Naval Commissar responded.
– SNAP – Bang
Not a moment later, another vox transmission sounded.
"Admiral! This is Captain Titus. Our warp engines are ready –"
The transmission was suddenly cut off.
"Someone get me that transmission! Now!" Nemea demanded.
Enginseer Bellisarius responded, his voice heavily accented by the heavy mechanical modifications on his person.
"Augur arrays report that the Spirit of Defiance has been destroyed. Chaos ships have been reported entering the sector near the supply ships."
"Damn it. Send a vox message to the fleet and the supply ships. All capable vessels are to warp to Cadia. The rest fleet will maintain the engagement Chaos vessels and fulfill their duty to the Imperium. The Emperor Protects."
The Battlegroup, or what was left of it, continued the assault against the overwhelming chaos numbers. The Roar of Nemea continued launching its bomber squadrons and firing its batteries effectively eliminating and crippling key vessels. Though it successfully halted the charge of the enemy vessels, it's effect was merely insignificant against the seemingly unending horde of chaos vessels.
I can't hold them off any longer, I can only do so much before they overwhelm me.
"Reports indicate the supply ships have entered the warp." Bellisarus's mechanical voice reported.
Praise the Emperor for his small mercies. Nemea mumbled to herself.
"Ready our warp engines." She commanded. "All ships, break contact, head to Cadia immediately."
The Roar of Nemea, though, remained fighting, firing its macro-cannons in an attempt to stall time for the Battlegroup. Nemea recalled Captain Rhy's words.
Better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself.
With steel in her eyes and fury in her heart, she told herself internally.
We shall not fail Him this day.
Her eyes flew through the charts and data on the cogitators, issuing commands with renewed vigor. Her forehead was beaded with sweat as she struggled to regain control of the hopeless situation. Her attempts however were futile and she was interrupted.
"Admiral, there is no use in dying to cover up your failure. We must disengage now if we are to be able to fulfill our orders."
He noted the admiral's disregard of his warning, bringing up his bolt pistol and cocking it.
"This is your last warning Admiral." Commissar Hanroth warned, bolt pistol readied at her head.
The admiral's resolve faltered, the threat of execution for dereliction of duty shocked her into submission. Out of all possible charges, this was the one she feared the most.
I will not be the one who dies because of this. My soul would be damned forever. Duty is all I have known; I will not be at the will of the irony of fate.
Her inner musings were interrupted by a vox transmission.
"Admiral, this is Captain Hawke. All remaining ships are engaged and cannot pull back, only our ships are in a position to do so. We must leave Admiral. The battle is lost here, we must join the defense at Cadia. We will avenge their sacrifice then." Captain Hawke of The Honour of Purity, responded, knowing full well of the situation.
Admiral Nemea stood tall, fists clenched to her sides, her eyes defiantly glaring at the battle before her, filled with unshed tears. Tears unshed for the men lost at her side. Tears of rage at the gall of the heretics to dare attack her fleet. And tears of shame, ashamed for her wounded pride, ashamed for her devastating defeat and ashamed for failing her duty. The ensign in charge for the engines looked up at her expectantly. Taking a deep, quivering, breath, she nodded. The commissar lowered his gun.
"At once Admiral." An ensign obliged.
The ship rumbled violently, the space in front warping violently, the immaterium forcing its way to the material realm. Resigned and disgraced, Admiral Victoria Nemea collapsed onto her seat, the full weight of the situation finally falling on her. Her faith was regardless, steadfast, for heresy is the surest way to damnation. The engines picked up speed, thrusting the ship into the warp. She looked up into the void.
"O immortal God Emperor. Preserve us, from the dangers of the void." She whispered.