Part 4 of the Documentary on the Battle of Montes Lumen.
Ambush- 0642 (Local System Time)
Despite Omega Group's initial success, the situation would take a turn for the worst when the primary Radacri force began to accelerate through the Ice Field Gap, heading directly for the ORP and the Federal Navy's staging area. Though the smaller Radacri forces had routed; long-range sensors tracked multiple offshoots from the force intercepted by Omega Group heading back to the main force. Admiral Urich believed her quick deployment of Omega's escorts had repelled an attempt to flank the primary group consisting of the bulk of the 2nd Expeditionary Fleet's CCH force; some sixty Vengeance S2 class Heavy Cruiser.
Reporting initial success to her superiors in Aquarius; Urich received orders from Federal Navy Tempest Strategic Command to begin a counter-offensive. Indeed, as the primary Radacri force regrouped with the offshoots, it had begin cruising directly into the gap in the Ice Crystal field near BD-1A; right into the firing line of the bulk of Alpha Group's cruisers. The alignment of BD-1A and the icy rock planet P-1C facilitated a convenient hyper cruise passage for the approaching Radacri bioships through the passage. Such astronomical conditions contributed to the failure of the UTN fleet in halting the initial advance by the aliens.
Shortly after receiving confirmation from the Federal Navy's Tempest Sector Stratcom, Admiral Urich ordered two formations of Vengeance-class Heavy cruisers (VE CCH) to adjust their trajectory to roughly intercept the bulk of the Radacri force. In standard UTN Naval doctrine under these circumstances; VE CCH acts a 'ship of the line', intending to break up and slow down the approaching formations while heavier ships of the Endeavour-class (EDVR CCB) provide long-range fire support. Task Group Alpha's three battlecruisers remained within range of the ORP while the two formations of four heavy cruisers, designation Group Gamma A and B, began cruising through the ice crystal fields, on an intercept course with the bulk of the Radacri Force.
Urich's battle plan relied in the assumption that the Radacri fleet would respond to the VE CCH formation and either alter course, or a smaller formation would split from the main force to counter them. With a high angle of attack and a strategic advantage in the gravity well of BD-1A, Group Gamma would be able to devastate the alien capital ship formations with their axial SMRGs; potentially breaking up the fleet and forcing them to split.
The Battle- 0755 (Local System Time)
Task Group Gamma entered firing range of the main Radacri force at 0755 LST, reporting SDS and MLADAR visual contact around the same time, Admiral Urich ordered the two groups to split and attack at different angles. Moments later, Group Gamma A reported firing for effect as the four cruisers broke the ice fields and emerged into open space approximately 10,000 kilometres from the main alien force.
Task Group Gamma A consisted of the Vengeance S2-class Heavy Cruisers, UTNS Sasquatch (VE-191), UTNS Thunderous (VE-199), UTNS Sunset Rain (VE-197) and UTNS Triumphant (VE-198) as pictured above. Lead ship, Sasquatch (VE-191) was under the command of Group Captain Ellan Remori; a young but well respected Federal navy captain with experience from the early stages of the Radacri Wars.
Remori's cruiser group reported multiple effective hits on the Radacri formations, within a few hours, combined with Gamma B's group, the eight Vengeance-class cruisers reported over two dozen confirmed kills on roughly cruiser-mass Radacri bioships and multiple hits on larger, capital-mass signatures. Admiral Urich's plan had worked so far; the main Radacri force began to slow down as it entered the ice crystal gap, right into the 'trap' the Federal Navy had set for it.
As the two elements of Gamma group approached within 5000 kilometres of the Radacri forces, the main force split into several smaller groups; one of which altered trajectory to intercept Gamma, but the bulk of the Radacri capital ships remained cruising at full speed through the passage into orbit over BD-1A. Despite superior tactics and long-range firepower, the UTN Fleet was severely outnumbered; a fact that Admiral Urich would soon truly realise as the bulk of the Radacri force entered MLADAR range of Group Alpha stationed near to the ORP Staging Point.
With the intention to cause major damage to the main force, Admiral Urich ordered group Gamma to focus fire on the capital ships, but before the Vengeance-class cruisers could re-align their axial guns, Captain Remori reported Group Gamma A had no choice but to commit to CQC with the Radacri splinter force at approximately 800 kilometres. Moments later, the first loss of the Battle of Montes Lumen was confirmed as UTNS Sunset Rain (VE-197) was hit with heavy incoming fire from Radacri fast cruisers and fell out of the formation, bellowing smoke and debris from her stern. The three other UTN Heavy cruisers turned to broadside and committed to battle proper.
At this point, the main Radacri force had entered weapons range of Group Alpha, and Urich ordered Gamma's cruisers to retreat; their objective had failed as the numerical superiority of the approaching vessels was now apparent. Contact was lost with Remori's cruisers at approximately 0821 LST, Admiral Urich assumed the worst.
Spearheaded by the battlecruisers UTNS Retaliation (EDVR-12), Recuperation (EDVR-14) and Restless IV (EDVR-22), Task Alpha opened fire at 0830 LST; the formation of approximately forty remaining Vengeance-class Heavy Cruisers and two dozen Faraday-class destroyers fired for effect with their axial armaments directly into the path of the oncoming alien fleet, while the trio of Endeavour-class battlecruisers - the heaviest ships in the fleet - opened fire with a full broadside in a column formation a few hundred kilometres to the rear of the main force.
Initially, Admiral Urich had high hopes of some success in slowing down the fast approaching aliens. As the opposing fleet entered within 10,000 KM of Group Alpha; they had already sustained heavy losses from continued bombardment from the UTN Fleet; SDS and MLADAR scopes providing confirmation of dozens of large vessels slipping from the main force, apparently disabled by the human fleet's heavy weapons fire. Standard long-range / stand-off munitions fired by the MA-FIMD batteries on Endeavour-class battlecruisers utilise megaton Nuclear Fusion Warheads surrounded by a hardened tungsten shell fifty centimetres thick; the resultant detonation upon direct impact or in close proximity to a hostile vessel could cause enormous damage from fragmentation. These rounds, known by the UTN Navy Gunnery crews as "Frags" were the munition of choice during the Battle for Montes Lumen.
The initial bombardment lasted approximately an hour before Urich ordered her Heavy cruisers and their destroyer escorts to commit to CQC (Close Quarters Combat) within 500 kilometres of the approaching Radacri fleet. By this point, it was clear that the Federal Navy was in an unsustainable war of attrition. Multiple reports from warships participating in the Battle indicated that the aliens had suffered enormous losses in the early stages, with more than a hundred confirmed kills and several hundred confirmed hits. It was Admiral Urich's expectation that the aliens would withdraw and regroup shortly after, but the force's true size had been revealed; MLADAR scans would put the bulk of the capital fleet of the Radacri force at least an order of magnitude greater than before. Long-Distance probes from beyond P-1C's orbit also reported more FTL signatures emanating from further out, towards the Tempest Ice Barrier in the system.
When the two opposing fleets hit visual contact at the unusually close distance of around 100 kilometres, the resulting fray would be remembered in history by the few human survivors as the worst loss of life and equipment the Old Federation would ever experience in its two-thousand-cycle reign.
Last Stand- 1049 (Local System Time)
1049, Local System Time, approximately 30 minutes into the CQC exchange at ranges under 100KM, at least twenty CCHs of Group Alpha's main formation were lost to alien weapons fire. At such close ranges, Federal Navy warships reporting being hit by high intensity, medium-velocity plasma weapons with extremely dense impactors - able to break through a Vengeance-class's shields in a few repeated hits. The Vengeance, renown throughout the Federal Navy as being one of the toughest warships in the fleet, especially for its size, was cut in half like butter by the ionising pulses from the Radacri capital ships.
Despite heavy losses, Task Alpha fought valiantly, destroying or disabling dozens of Radacri ships including several capital ships of more than twice the mass of the Endeavour-class battlecruiser - the heaviest warship available to the UTN Fleet at the time. Admiral Urich reported unsustainable losses to Federal Navy Tempest Stratcom approximately 1100 hours, LST, with more than half of Task Alpha's cruisers destroyed or knocked out. UTNS Recuperation (EDVR-14) had suffered major damage after a close-range broadside with a Radacri capital bioship within 75 kilometres, and although the Radacri vessel was stricken badly and temporarily withdrew, the UTN Battlecruiser was more or less out of the action with her shields down and severe hull breaches and heavy loss of life to the crew. Group Alpha's other two battlecruisers, Retaliation (EDVR-12) and Restless IV (EDVR-22), were taking fire but holding their own along with a dozen Heavy Cruisers close to the ORP, approximately 250 kilometres from the centre of the battle.
Alpha's main heavy cruiser formation was decimated and forced to withdraw to the ORP under covering fire from Retaliation and Restless IV at approximately 1120 LST. Admiral Urich's fleet had been exhausted and the alien onslaught showed no sign of slowing down despite the losses inflicted by the human fleet's valiant defence. As such, she requested an immediate retreat to the neighbouring system of Tempest Delta, expecting to regroup with the Federal Navy's Home Fleet to continue the defence.
Admiral Urich's request was denied and she was ordered to hold the ORP Staging point over BD-1A at any cost. Stratcom promised additional resources from the Home Fleet within the hour as emergency reserve forces across central Aquarius came online. Despite being given what was essentially a suicide mission, Urich took it upon herself to carry out this command personally. She transferred command to the bridge of the Retaliation and lead the Last stand of Montes Lumen herself. With only approximately twenty heavy cruisers and 2 battlecruisers left from a force over a 100 strong, the UTN's 2nd Expeditionary Fleet prepared itself to go out fighting as a slight gap in the approaching Radacri force's cruise trajectory allowed a momentary lapse in the fighting - an opportunity to regroup over the ORP Staging Point.
Sacrifice- 1340 (Local System Time)
Task Group Alpha, down to approximately 20% strength, entered a defensive pattern formation around the ORP platform at the Staging Point at approximately 1340 LST; Admiral Urich personally commanding the defence from the bridge of UTNS Retaliation (EDVR-12). It would not be long before MLADAR and SDD scopes detected the approaching alien fleet: moving fast through the debris field of alien and human ship carcasses a like from the initial battle, their trajectory was estimated to intercept directly with the ORP installation - it was no clear that the Radacri identified the tactical advantage that possessing control of this choke point would provide. Indeed, with a foothold beyond Montes Lumen, the Radacri hive fleets would be able to push into Aquarius itself unhindered by astronomical barriers - with their sights firmly set on eradicating every last human being the cluster.
1400 LST, the remains of Group Alpha, fewer than thirty warships, depleted their final Axial munition reserves and were forced to commit to CQC under 1000KM from a several-thousand strong force of alien organic bioships. Admiral Urich began formulating a plan to slow down the advance, as reinforcements from Stratcom did not materialise, and electromagnetic interference from the Hive fleet was jamming long-range communications. The gravity field of BD-1A, while useful in inhibiting FTL transitions; was trapping the UTN Fleet from escape and FTL communication with Strat com. Unable to launch communication probes beyond the surrounding hive fleet and unable to communicate with Naval command, Admiral Urich saw the writing on the wall and informed her crew that this would be their last stand, and their finest hour.
The brave servicemen and women of the Federal Navy didn't question her orders: the remaining combat capable warships were to hold their fire and allow the aliens to approach within 100 KM of the ORP while Retaliation moved into a close orbit of the kilometre long Station complex. With the Hive fleet bearing down on the defenders, within moments volleys of superheated plasma bellowed from the alien fleets towards the ORP; its hull rupturing and twisting as the external hull plates melted and groaned under stress; sending superheated debris into space. The time had come.
Restless IV 's guns fell silent as she depleted her final ammunition reserves and succumbed to alien plasma bombardment, moments later the once mighty warship's spine broke and she fell apart before exploding in a fireball of twisted metal and drive plasma.
With only half a dozen cruisers left, Urich ordered Retaliation to lower her shields and arm her 'Planet Killer' torpedoes. The fleet command ship carried two dozen HORNET-XL anti-surface ballistic missiles with Polarytic Warheads. Overriding the standard Stratcom authorisation requirement, Retaliation's missile ports opened as the 1.2 million ton battlecruiser rammed the ORP at full cruise.
Within a moment, several mighty flashes blossomed along her lateral missile bays, before the ship buckled in three places following the resultant detonation; the distinctive green-tinted polarytic radiation erupting from her hull as she collided with the ORP Platform; the Polarytic radiation causing the platform's internal reactors to meltdown, along with her own.
The resulting explosion would completely destroy the ORP and taking the final remnants of the Old Federation's 2nd Expeditionary Fleet's Task Group Alpha with it. Admiral Urich would never live to see how effective her 'last stand' was, but pre-imperial era UAS Navy analysts believed the resultant Polarytic discharge would have destroyed a very large percentage of the hive fleet in Montes Lumen, and likely bought several crucial cycles for the Federal Navy in the coming stages of the Radacri Wars. However, it would ultimately be in vein as the UTN would fall regardless, not by the Radacri, but somewhat ironically by their own destructive power.
Montes Lumen is a protected system under the control of the ATIS Imperial Navy's Tempest Sector Fleet. The site of the Battle of Montes Lumen is marked with a permanent memorial platform erected near the derelict remains of the ORP-7 platform and battlecruiser UTNS Retaliation. The sub-sector of BD-1A was named 'Urich's Revenge' in memory of the Old Federal Navy admiral and her last stand against impossible odds in the name of protecting humanity.
As of 4410 A.D, Urich's Revenge remains a restricted zone off-limits to civilian shipping in the Tempest cluster, mainly due to the residual polarytic radiation still left from the detonation of Retaliation's 'Planet Killer payload'. However, the site is also of significance to the ATIS Institute of Naval Research, as the remains of Radacri bioships are collected and studied over the hundreds of cycles after the fall of the UTN. During the transition from the New Federal Era of the UAS in 4300 AD to the Imperial Era of ATIS in 4401 A.D, the new Aquarian Government placed great emphasis on strategic defence of the Tempest region; vowing to use lessons learned in the Radacri Wars to deploy a defensive capability in the region able to stop even a Hive fleet, should the Radacri one day return to finish the war.