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Battle of Ganesh

by Harold Hale

The Battle of Ganesh (1203). Foretold by the Prophetess of the Faith Shoshanna two years before it was fought, the Battle of Ganesh ranks as one of the Human vs. Vampire engagements to occur before the War of the Black Curtain.

Terran naval assets in the form of the Third Fleet (100 ships), the Van Helsing Squadron (90 ships) and elements from Second Fleet (50 ships) engaged a Vampire ship armada of approximately 200 vessels led by a Puppeteer Virus which called itself, "Tamberlane", in reality a 500,000 ton battletender. Additionally, the Terrans had a garrison of 50,000 Marines stationed on Ganesh itself with a number of planetary defense batteries and local defense forces. Vampire landing craft transported some 200 AFVs and an undetermined number of armed robots for the purpose of a planetary invasion.

Background

The Terran Republic had made contact with Ganesh as part of its coreward exploration activities in 1194. Relations the local government and Republic explorers was very friendly and the population willing accepted the teachings of Gabreelism. Within a few years a formal treaty of defense and mutual economic redevelopment was signed, and plans made to establish a Terran base in system for the purpose of further coreward exploration. Those plans were put on hold after Shoshanna had her psionic visions of a great battle that was to be fought there. Instead, throughout 1202 preparations were made for the system's defense against the coming Vampire threat.

Unknown to the Terrans, Tamberlane's Vampire fleet had patrolled the jump-1 main through the subsector for a number of years since the Collapse, growing in strength as it absorbed stragglers from the Vampire Highway. Its legions included several large TL 15 Imperial warships that were more than a match for any single vessel in the Terran Republic Navy. Tamberlane visited the Ganesh system rather infrequently prior to 1202, as it appeared quite confident that the humans there were no threat, and the lack of a gas giant made refueling for most vessels difficult. However, a visit by a black globe equipped Vampire scout ship in 1202 revealed the presence of a significant naval force which Tamberlane mistakenly believed was being constructed by the humans of Ganesh. Mustering all of its forces for a single strike, it hoped to eliminate this new threat.

The Combatants

The Terran vessels involved at Ganesh were predominantly TL 12 starships, some with higher tech features such as weaponry or sensors. TL 14 and 15 craft could be found in the Van Helsing Squadron, but for the most part these were not first line warships.

Tamberlane's Vampire fleet on the other hand included predominantly TL 15 designs, many of those front line warships at the time of the Rebellion. Though short on expendable munitions such as missiles, most of the ships were in good repairs due to maintenance they had recently received at Champa.

Opening Actions

Third Fleet and the Van Helsing Squadron conducted predeployment exercises in early 1202 to Ganesh as part of a cover for the redeployment of VI Corps, Marine Force. News of the predeployment leaked further early on in the exercise, however the VI Corps redeployment was kept secret. Following the naval predeployment exercises, the Terrans sent several scout vessels deeper into the subsector looking for the approach of a Vampire fleet, but none of the probes found Tamberlane's main force.

The bulk of Tamberlane's forces arrived in the outer system of Ganesh in late 1202, waiting and observing Ganesh. Prior to the arrival of the bulk of the Terran naval forces, several vessels were deployed in Ganesh's planetoid belt where they sat silently waiting for the Ganesh humans to send their forces out to explore.

On 005-1203, the Terran main body, consisting of some 200 vessels arrive in system, approximately in the vicinity of the 100 planetary diameter limit of Ganesh. Tamberlane's scouts soon encountered this force and reported it to Tamberlane. Tamberlane redeployed its forces into the planetoid belt, and proceeded with plans to ambush the Terran fleet.

In the days prior to deploying their main force to Ganesh, the Terrans had conducted a complete reconnaissance of the Ganesh system. However, they failed to deploy adequate sensor drones in the planetoid belt to cover the approach of an enemy fleet. This was to prove an unfortunate and costly mistake.

Initial Clash

A task force of 6 Terran vessels, predominately frigates, was sent out on a routine patrol of a section of the planetoid belt called "Zulu One". In that region, unknown to the Terrans, were 3 dozen Vampire ships, including an Atlantic-class battleship. One of the frigates, the Comanche, reported multiple bogeys on a passive sensor sweep and was immediately cut in half by a meson gun burst. The 5 other members of the task force were similarly hunted down and destroyed, but not before they could send a maser transmission back to the main Terran fleet.

Zulu Three

The Terrans, under the command of Admiral Alan Leung, believed that the main Vampire fleet had been encountered, and dispatched the Van Helsing Squadron along with elements of Second Fleet to investigate Zulu One. After dispatching several smaller Vampire ships at the cost of only two of their own, the Terran forces pursued the remaining Vampire ships into a section of the belt known as Zulu Three. There they encountered the bulk of Tamberlane's forces waiting for their arrival.

After several hours of confused, often bitter fighting climaxed by the Terran light cruiser Ajax ramming a Vampire dreadnought (an action that destroyed both ships), the remnants of the Van Helsing Squadron and Second Fleet withdrew from the asteroid belt and back to Ganesh. Tamberlane's ships had also been mauled, losing over a third of the entire force, however, its loses were smaller than the Terrans, who had lost well over half their vessels.

Day Two

While Tamberlane's victory had been significant, most of its ships were now too low on fuel to withdraw from the system. It had to gamble on being able to take Ganesh itself or risk losing the bulk of its fleet.

The Terrans, demoralized by their defeat at the hands of the Vampire forces during the first phase of the battle, attempted to reorganize themselves for the defense of Ganesh proper. Admiral Leung aboard his flagship Orion, personally directed the main line of defense.

The Vampire attack employed a classical maneuver using a number of black globe equipped ships to drift past the Terran fleet and then decloak attacking at point blank range, while the reminder of the fleet engaged the Terrans in a more conventional attack. The combined strike broke the Terran line and destroyed the Orion with all hands aboard. The Terran fleet took heavy losses as they began a general withdrawal, but inflicted tremendous losses on the attacking Vampire forces in the process. By the conclusion of this phase of the battle, Tamberlane's forces had access to Ganesh orbit, but it had cost it all of its capital vessels with the exception of Tamberlane itself.

Vampire Army Landings

Tamberlane's ground forces began their assault some 12 hours later, utilizing TL 15 AFVs recovered from elsewhere in the subsector. Terran Marine forces, though technologically no match for this threat made up for it sheer numbers. However, Tamberlane's remaining ships in orbit were able to provide crucial orbital fire support that gave the Vampire's a decisive advantage early in the fight.

Terran Counterattack

Terran forces, down to around 50 operational vessels including the battleship Constellation, three cruisers and an assortment of other craft, rallied at Pordona, an ice-capped world in the Ganesh system. Realizing that VI Corps was left exposed back on Ganesh, Admiral Ezra Silva, now in charge of Terran forces, made the decision to launch a counter attack on 11-1102, allowing some extra time for some of the crews to make additional battle damage repairs. A courier was also dispatched to Arrukir to warn the remainder of Second Fleet stationed there about the Vampire attack, and to plead for reinforcements.

The attack commenced on 11-1102. The Terrans had early success destroying several of the transports that had landed the Vampire ground forces, but were soon bogged down in an orbital shooting match with the rest of Tamberlane's Vampire fleet, which had just finished refueling. This phase of the battle ended in a Terran victory, though once again the price had been high, with an additional 25 ships knocked out of action. Tamberlane itself took several hits for missile and meson gun fire and was forced to break orbit, which it did with about a half dozen other assorted vessels. The remainder of Tamberlane's fleet was destroyed or disabled.

Conclusion

After staying in orbit of Ganesh for two days and providing orbital fire for the Marines continuing their battle on the surface, reports from scouts of additional Vampire ships arriving in the Ganesh system caused Admiral Silva to order a general withdrawal of his remaining forces. Those Terran starships that could do so, a dozen vessels, jumped out of the Ganesh system for Arrukir. The remainder to up positions at various points in the Ganesh system prepared to fight a guerilla campaign until reinforcements could arrive.

Upon arriving at Arrukir on 21-1203, he discovered the Terran outpost there in total disarray, the result of the panic induced by news of the destruction of most of Third Fleet and the Van Helsing Squadron. Silva took charge of the remainder of Second Fleet, and soon restored order, preparing the outpost for what he felt was an eminent attack.

In fact, the additional Vampire ships seen entering the Ganesh system where scout vessels Tamberlane had sent out to check on the status of the Catania system. Finding no enemy warships there, they immediately jumped back to Ganesh. Tamberlane retired with this force and what was left of its Vampire fleet from the Ganesh system on 14-1203, retreating back up the jump-1 main toward Champa. From there its fate is unknown, but it is believed to either to have been destroyed by a superior Vampire fleet headed up or down the Vampire Highway, or was absorbed by another Vampire fleet and taken coreward.

The Terrans sent several scout ships back into the Ganesh system over the next couple of weeks before finally arriving in force on 43-1203. By then the battle planetside was virtually over, both sides having inflicted heavy casualties without being able to dominate the other completely. VI Corps still controlled much of the southern hemisphere, however, the Vampire army controlled an equatorial archipelago and much of the northern hemisphere. Orbital support from the Terran Republic Navy proved to be the decisive factor, and over the next month all Vampire resistance was destroyed.

Aftermath

Never again would a Vampire fleet stray into the Ganesh system, and though the Terrans did not realize it at the time, the Vampire threat overall in the Solomani Rim was greatly diminished. The significance of the sacrifice at Ganesh was not lost on the Dingir League, which sent an ambassador to Terra soon after word of the battle reached Dingir. This contact eventually resulted to the Meshan Accords of 1205, an agreement between the League and the Republic to work toward a coordinated Vampire defense.

The battle also changed Terran Republic expansion policy which soon afterward emphasized exploration and annexation rimward of the Republic. Plans for coreward expansion were permanently halted, and exploration was put on hold until Menelaus petitioned in 1207 to become a part of the Meshan Accords. Their participation in that agreement led ultimately to contact with the Reformation Coalition in 1208.


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