The Siege of Osscharne

The Siege of Osscharne is one of the more recent battles of the space forces of Trans-Hyperborica. Having taken place a scant few years ago in 8722, it featured the first encounter between a new Zharra-class dreadnought and foreign spacecraft. The Siege of Osscharne is also notable in that it is one of a select few proper confrontations between Trans-Hyperborican fleets and an Armada- this one being the Third Processional of the Second Dominion. In 8722, the Third Processional was entering sector 213- and this time, Trans-Hyperborica sent an official request to make military history instead of merely reenacting it. The Armada Admiral of the Processional accepted the request, and as divisions from the Forward Exploratory Squadron "Eroded Promontory" arrived on the outskirts of Osscharne system they found... well, not much. The jamming was obvious- from every planetoid in the system, and a few more besides, scrap transmissions and other simple ewar tactics blared. Evidently something important was hidden here, so the squadron moved back to request that the Strike Fleet "Even the Plowshare's Blunted Now" accompany it back to Osscharne.

When they returned they discovered that Watchful Vomeronasal Division, which had been left behind to keep monitoring the system, had broken- not quite a mission-kill, but the division had been required to turn off their ansibles and move to a high ecliptic orbit of the system as part of the terms of surrender. They also found a smaller fleet than expected- while the Processional had brought 1300 warships to the fight, Trans-Hyperborica had brought in about 400 Home Guard ships and about a tenth each of the Diocese 2135 and Coreward Trans-Hyperborica defense forces- making the fight 1300 against 1700. As the Strike Fleet proceeded inwards, it was beset by a coordinated strike- monitors and battlecarriers, with Vitea-class strike cruisers slipping in to direct heavy elements of the Strike Fleet. These early attacks succeeded in causing disorder, including a full squadronbreak as Battleship Squadron "Annoying Screech" was forced to fall back after five of its battleships experienced being on the other side of a mission-kill for the first time.

Still, losses on both sides were fairly minimal- the Vitea-class strike cruisers employed by Trans-Hyperborica would be enough to mission-kill a normal enemy's battleships, but the Armada ships were more advanced- so the standard double-strike of a Vitea would only bring down its shields. On the other hand, Armada ships turned out to be slightly less maneuverable than Trans-Hyperborican ones- which allowed for mostly safe retreats. The series of confrontations as the Strike Fleet moved inwards for its typical "attack every significant point of resistance within the system" pattern resulted generally in minor victories- all told, perhaps a sixteenth of the Strike Fleet's fighting power had been forced to retreat and the Home Guard had to scramble to bring damaged ships back to full readiness before the first real battle arrived. Osscharne's innermost planet is Gralnadium, a small hot gas giant in a somewhat elliptical orbit- and it's a major site within the system for energy production, mining, and exotics research. As such, it features three of Osscharne's few permanently-stationed citadels- Redoubt Anschadel, an ancient Gronyb Da'at; Lunette Etheldun, a Schelemat of the truncated octahedral type; and Tenaille Kronamman, a first-icosahedral Andarnia. As the Strike Fleet approached Gralnadium, two more citadels settled into the defensive line- tetrahedral Schanze Goranum and cylindrical Blockhouse Alpha.

The battle was typical of long-ranged space combat- over, if not resolved, in mere minutes. The Blockhouse citadel design features exceedingly long-ranged spinal weapons, which allowed it to pick off approacing cruisers and even a carrier before the carrier could deploy its fighters. However, much of the ordnance to be deployed in an explicitly long-range battle is deployed quite early on- and as such destroying, mission-killing, or breaking spacecraft is not as effective. Many carriers were in attendance, mostly so that their drones and fighters could be used to destroy incoming ordnance. When the First Battle of Gralnadium (though this designation only really applies for this specific "war", given that Osscharne system is a common site for fighting) was over, both sides were similarly damaged. The armada had experienced another battleship squadronbreak, an entire escort division was mission-killed, and several carriers were bereft of subships... but Trans-Hyperborica had lost Schanze Goranum, Redoubt Anschadel was missing a significant portion of its ring, and a dozen Home Guard monitors were no longer fit to fight.

The Strike Fleet elected to keep the pressure up, moving rapidly towards the third planet (for the second was a dwarf planet in a meager scattered belt)- the habitable world of Uselwitz. Uselwitz is the most populous world in Trans-Hyperborica's section of the Gephurtolic Main, and in interstellar navigation comes immediately before Alteck- a star in the Unified Republican Starstates and the quickest route into the Trans-Rift main that forms the core of Trans-Hyperborica. As such, it features the bulk of Osscharne's defenses- seven citadels on permanent assignment, three squadrons of defense force ships using it as a homeport, and for the First Battle of Uselwitz about a thousand warships including four more citadels and even a dreadnought of uncertain provenance. As the strike fleet closed, all prepared for a truly climactic battle... but the Strike Fleet elected to speed past to the fifth planet Zuriam rather than engage Uselwitz's defenders. Despite this, scores of ships recieved damage due to the encounter- the minute the engagement lasted was still plenty of time for fighting. The dreadnought even almost impacted an incoming cruiser due to miscoordination on the part of its crew.

Even as the defense forces and Home Guard worked to get their speed up to the point that they could chase the Strike Fleet to Zuriam and Blockhouse citadels fired their long-range guns, only a few ships were lost- though one was an enemy dreadnought. Zuriam, a cool ammonia world, only had two citadels defending it- the rest of its forces, apart from a token garrison, had been moved to defend Uselwitz. Enceinte Garthanon and Alcassaba Roxan defended Zuriam as best as they could, but each could only account for perhaps a hundred Strike Fleet ships and the few other craft defending were decidedly uncoordinated. As such, both citadels were mission-killed and many of the defending ships suffered a similar fate. They would require months to repair, time that simply wasn't available for the "war". Even so, two attacking carriers and three cruisers were forced to retreat- where they were soon destroyed by a squadron redlining their drives to head insystem.

With the provisions and support squadrons sitting on the edge of Osscharne system pledged to only work in the roles of repairing ships that had switched to being noncombatants for the remainder of the siege, rescuing crew, and occasionally sending escorted supply ships insystem; there was no outside ability to call for assistance- so the Strike Fleet had to abandon Zuriam, considering that they would be unable to bring a blockade, holding, or invasion fleet over in time. They headed over to the antepenultimate major world- the sixth planet Verulut and its great manufacturing hubs. As the outer system's defenses coalesced, Verulut became host to an additional twelve citadels and much of the defense forces- though the Home Guard was still playing catch-up. Among the citadels were Istivin Barbican, Ramparts Aleph through Dalet, and Crownwork Chevisca- all both strong defenders and important targets.

The First Battle of Verulut began as many close-range battles do: with occasional potshots as the fleets closed, followed shortly by a conflagration. The Ramparts, like their Blockhouse cousins, fired first- starship-sized missiles dueled with fighters as they crawled towards dreadnoughts and battleships. It didn't blunt the advance of the Strike Fleet at all. Verulut's skies were filled with explosions as the battle reached its doorstep- a close-range battle lasts longer than a long-range one, but that doesn't mean the pace of explosions slows down by much. The confrontation in the skies reached a fever pitch- citadels engaging dreadnoughts and monitors engaging battleships, fifteen against eight and seventeen against thirty-five.

And for all that, the outcome wasn't clear for hours. Both sides were being worn down at a nearly equal speed- but they each had large reserves of ships to burn. Eventually, though, the Strike Fleet extricated itself from its dance partner and began to leave. All told, the Strike Fleet was triply decimated- with a worse rate among its larger ships. Most of these were just breaks rather than mission-kills or destructions- but even so, nearly 450 ships were now out of commission. The defense forces had actually been spared the worst of it- their ships were generally small, relegated to being tertiary targets even as they picked off enemy ships (though nine of the fifteen citadels were forced to break). he possibilities are considered equally likely- either the Strike Fleet was retreating, or it was attempting to engage yet another planet. Either way, those plans were foiled- as the Home Guard fleet had finally arrived, and it was prepared to make up for the two battles it had missed. Three hundred more ships swung into the Strike Fleet's lines, enacted their toll... and passed on through, letting it leave. Now that the Battle Fleet would be on the way, there were more important matters to attend to- like surprises.

They had just over sixty days. As a matter of pride, the Third Processional only used its less capable jump and vault drives unless pressed- travelling along the many mains of the Ecumene made their ultimate route visit more stars. They also moved slowly and methodically through systems, grabbing asteroids and sharing gossip- so the defenders of Osscharne might just have enough time to prepare a proper defence against the two Battle Fleets on the way. Trans-Hyperborica's fastest drive at the moment is the transdimensional drive, which requires complex computations- but luckily, Trans-Hyperborica wouldn't need much parading around to gather the space forces. As the plan to fight with the Third Processional became a reality, the Trans-Hyperborican fleets were gradually recalled to nearby stars and bases- usually those calculated to have the easiest path to Osscharne. As such, the longest trip to a fleet base and back would take fifty days- including the time needed to travel through each system.

In actuality, it took fifty-six- mostly because more time was needed to shoo Third Processional assets than expected. The last stragglers came in even as reports were recieved (from the Trans-Hyperborican "neutral" star of Sarkhis) that the Third Processional had just made the jump to Osscharne. From their arrival points, it took all of the four days remaining to arrive at their actual destinations and prepare for their missions- even burning at accelerations that would require a quick emergency stepdown in the very rare event of inertial compensator failure. The defenders had long since abandoned the cowardly (and, more importantly, unfun) jamming haze they used to provoke a Strike Fleet's attack... so as the 2800 ships of two Third Processional battle fleets arrived on the outskirts of Osscharne system, they could see the vast quantity of defending ships- all 5000 of them. Minus the ones behind the star, of course. And whatever ones lay cloaked. And perhaps a few more....

The two Battle Fleets screamed in-system, this time publically announcing their intent to actually destroy the defenses of Uselwitz. For their part, the defenses were much-reinforced: thirty-six citadels and ten dreadnoughts, plus eighteen hundred other warships. In the sixty hours it took for the Battle Fleets to reach engagement range, they were harried even more severely than the Strike Fleet had been- four hundred capital ships joined the fray. Some stayed for just a few minutes- strike cruisers could hit a battleship hard, but they wouldn't handle the counterattack nearly as well- but others kept with the fleet for a day, forcing starships to drop out. The most successful of these came late in the approach- as the fleets ran past the Post-Zuriam Deadline, a true dreadnought awoke.

The second ship or her class, LRFCV-C9U02 Teselazham, emerged from behind the asteroid it was using for cover- though, being only nine kilometres wide, the asteroid was scarcely larger than the Zharra-class dreadnought (although due to being considerably more hollow, the starship was a tenth its mass). This was the first time a Zharra ship truly proved its worth- its speed and heavy guns meant it could break or even mission-kill other dreadnoughts, if properly untethered from having to defend a fleet. Teselazham on its own forced nearly a third of the Battle Fleets' battleship might to retreat. As a result, by the time the Battle Fleets reached Uselwitz... it was quite clear that Trans-Hyperborican military power had been underestimated. Nonetheless, the Second Battle of Uselwitz commenced. It was the most metal-heavy battle over a habitable world for the next season- 4400 starships were involved in the day-long battle, a full thousand of which were longer than one kilometre. Hundreds of ships were lost, even more mission-killed- and both entire forces had to retreat for repairs. Even so, the Battle Fleets still had the advantage- their repair technology worked much quicker.

After that, though, the battle slowed. Neither fleet was willing to make a decisive move- instead, single divisions sallied in both directions. However, warfare in the Ecumene (and especially not in Trans-Hyperborica) is not known for being slow and methodical... and attrition is right out. As such, Teselazham and a small fleet of dreadnoughts, monitors, and battleships headed for the battle fleets... and into history. Very few fleetbreaks have been achieved by such a small force before- but as nearly all of the similar-mass warships of the battle fleets were still being repaired, they could properly wreak havoc. Even so, nearly all of the attacking force was destroyed- and all of Teselazham's weaponry was destroyed as it shielded its tattered retreating fleet. In the end, only enough ships were left fully operational to the battle fleets that their only operations would be more boring safe raids. Because of this, they retreated- and so the Siege of Osscharne is one of a very few actual confrontations between a Dominion Armada and a sub-polity's fleets where the latter won.

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