Second Battle of California Minor
|Second Battle of California Minor|
|Date||September 12, 817 A.S.|
|Result||Strategic HF/NTF victory, heavy losses on both sides|
The Second Battle of California Minor took place in orbit of Planet California Minor in California, between an ad-hoc alliance of the Neo-Terran Front and a Hellfire Legion battlegroup on one side, and a Liberty Navy taskforce on the other. The outcome of the battle cemented the treaty between the Neo-Terran Front and the Hellfire Legion, while dealing a serious setback to Liberty's efforts to clamp down on the breakaway factions.
This battle is not to be confused with the First Battle of California Minor, which took place between the Hellfire Legion and a much larger group of lawful units in 814 A.S., three years earlier, or the Battle of Willard Research Station in 800 A.S., which is in relatively close proximity to California Minor.
Having just taken the exiled Outcast battleship Cassus Belli into their forces, and with orders from the Liberty authorities for the warship to leave their space, the NTF decided to head to Rheinland in search of allies.
Unfortunately, the Rheinwehr was not receptive to the idea of a paramilitary organization operating within their borders, even one ostensibly on their side in the war against Liberty. The bulk of the NTF's combat arm wound up trapped in the Hudson system, living quietly off of occasional supply runs smuggled by sympathetic individuals, while the rest were on the other side of Liberty after being evicted from Inverness at gunpoint by the Bretonia Armed Forces.
Eventually, it became clear that the NTF's combat and logistical arms would have to reunite for the group to have any chance of surviving. As the combat arm was much better suited for travel, it was decided that the Cassus Belli and its attendant fighters would regroup with the logistical group in Magellan, passing through Texas, California, and Cortez to get there. This was a crucial test for the NTF, as the Cassus Belli carried the bulk of the NTF's active members; its destruction would have dealt a mortal blow to the Neo-Terrans' ambitions.
The fleet set out, passing close to Planet Houston in a signal to their sympathizers on the planet -- but an LSF task force was waiting for them. The Cassus and its fighter group made a hasty break for the California jump hole, keeping just a step ahead of the law.
On the other side of Liberty, the Hellfire Legion happened to have put together a battlegroup based around the HFB-Incursus, an Osiris-class battleship, with the intention of attacking the Liberty Navy fleet that had amassed in California. The HF's leader at the time, Tadao Mori, had assumed the Navy buildup was intended to attack Legionary assets in Magellan.
The NTF's rag-tag force ran headlong into the Legionary battlegroup at California Minor. Less than a minute later, the Cassus' engines broke down, allowing the Liberty fleets to catch up with them -- bringing the news that the NTF's leader in hiding, Ian Bosch, had just been assassinated by LSF operatives on Planet Erie less than an hour before.
With their command structure in shambles, their morale shattered by the death of their spiritual leader, and their flagship broken down, the Neo-Terrans should by all rights have surrendered. Instead, lacking any sane alternatives, the Legionary and NTF groups joined forces in an attempt to break out of the blockade and escape to the Independent Worlds.
While the NTF performed field repairs on the engines of the Cassus Belli, Hellfire forces charged into the middle of the Liberty blockade, guns blazing, with Neo-Terran fighter and bomber support not far behind. The LNS Durango was hit hard, but managed to moor at the planet before it took mortal damage.
Soon afterwards, the LNS Dakota engaged the rebel forces, inflicting heavy damage to the Incursus and decompressing a large section of the beleaguered ship, which put it out of the fight. The Dakota was crippled shortly after by concentrated bomber fire. Crew members from both ships were rescued by the now-repaired Cassus, and the LNS Oregon, respectively.
With engines back online, the Cassus made a run for the Cortez jump hole, escaping in the chaos of the battle. The surviving rebel fighters pulled out soon after. After having taken heavy losses themselves, the Liberty Navy was in no condition to pursue.
The Liberty Navy classified the Second Battle of California Minor and all battle-vids thereof in a ham-fisted attempt to avoid embarrassment, but several civilians on California Minor recorded the battle. Battle-vids of the event are pretty widely available on the black market, and were also briefly circulated as propaganda by the Xenos.
As for the rebels, the NTF returned the rescued crews and pilots to the Legion, and were shortly thereafter reunited with their logistical ships, which had waited in Cortez. Unfortunately, the NTF was coming to the realization that they could no longer upkeep their Sarissa-class battleship without proper parts, particularly as the ship was practically about to fall apart. The ailing Cassus Belli was sold to the Legion in exchange for the promise that a (downgraded) Spyglass would be built for the NTF to replace it; this promise was later fulfilled with the construction of the Belisarius.
The Second Battle of California Minor prompted the alliance between the NTF and the Legion, which still exists to this day (although it is strained of late, as the Legion still very much looks upon the NTF as a junior partner).