7th Fleet's Counterattack
7th Fleet's Counterattack, also known as Spoor's Assault among some Abh sources, or the Battle of the Ilsyr-Barke Sords in some human sources; was fought in plane space as the fleets commanded by Abriel Dusanyu, now de facto emperor of the Humankind Empire of Abh withdrew following the Battle of Lakfakalle. The 7th Fleet Phoenix commanded by Admiral Beneej Spoor interdicted the Alliance's pursuit ceasing the primary phase of the offensives in Ilsyr of the Lakfakalle Campaign.
The Battle of Lakfakalle could be considered a significant moral and psychological Alliance victory happening merely hours ago. Imperial Admiral, and now Emperor Abriel Dusanyu broke off from the fight as planned in Operation Phoenix. Now; however, the Four Nations Alliance sought to decide the war if possible by destroying the escaping convoys. Dusanyu's 1st to 6th Fleets only had brief reprieve from battle as they advanced through plane space toward the Barke Kingdom Sord and the Sotoryuru system.
Breakout of Abriel
In the midst of the battle, despite Ramaj's last stand, enemy elements continued to engage and slow down the retreat of the trailing 4th, 5th, and 6th Fleets. Despite the limited fighting power of the convoy units, Dusanyu successfully organized he fleets to punch through and break away with his fleets intact. In the process; however, the trailing units dragged debris and primarily had experienced serious damage prior to escape. The strategic success of Operation Phoenix hinged on whether or not he could still keep most of the force and convoy alive until they linked up with the trump card in play, Admiral Spoor's 7th Fleet, the only combat effective fleet in action.
Summoning the 7th Fleet
Emergency pickets were sent out to Barke to contact Spoor. Once the Calike made contact with Admiral Spoor, commanding the training garrison of Sotoryuru Naval Base, she reviewed the order which gave the following simple information.
- "Unable to contact Kotoponi. By Operation Phoenix, deploy immediately."
- ―Imperial Decree of Operation Phoenix to Beneej Spoor
With her orders, she had the grim task of dragging a trainee fleet and any fleet members on leave in her system to staff a makeshift fleet of combat vessels in the potentially vain hope of stopping a concentrated assault on system Abriel. She fetched her subordinate Kilo-Commander Kufadis and stated. "Send the following message. . ."
She attempted to amass a large combined fleet as rapidly as possible, but organizing an entire command structure from the reserve and training groups, and to ready a green fleet to engage the enemy took precious time; time that the operation could not afford. In the hours of organization, Lakfakalle fell to the enemy. Despite this she turned her newly formed command to the Barke Sord and ventured toward Ilysr with the intent to honor her orders.
By the time the 7th began to mobilize, Dusanyu had already fallen under attack once more. In the rush to escape the capital and save as many lives as possible, a column formed where each fleet fled in numerical order, the 4th, 5th, and 6th fleets trailing in the rear. Dusanyu's headquarters at the time was the 5th Fleet, leading just barely ahead of the 6th. Before too long his units began to get bogged down and mixed in with the lead and fastest assault elements of the Alliance.
". . . and yet the Enemy Gains!" 6th Fleet is Destroyed
Despite the size of the Alliance fleet, some commanders seized on the moment and deployed their fast assault units to do their best to keep up and slow down the retreat. Anticipating that the Abh would not dare to leave personnel behind, they managed to engage and slowly encircle the 6th Fleet Phoenix. In a vain hope of slowing the Alliance down, the commander-in-chief of 6th Fleet order his units to stand and fight, intending to die with honor and permit the others to escape with him him.
Even with his resistance; however, more organized Alliance columns began to enter plane space and bypass the surrounded 6th Fleet, chasing the tail end of the 5th Fleet. The enemy continued to gain even as they 6th fleet slowly found itself ground into oblivion. Dusanyu debated that if he could not make it to link up with Spoor, he'd make his last stand there as well. Just as the Alliance came within range of the 5th Fleet Phoenix, Spoor's lead 7th Fleet hurried forth making contact with the enemy
Spotting the danger as she saw the retreating space-time bubbles of the fleets, she chose to take the lead of her fleet once more akin to the 2nd Battle of Aptic Gate. Disregarding her own trailing units, she entered point blank range of the enemy and began forcing them to focus on her rather than the convoy. The first squadron saw serious damage, but soon the 7th Fleet organized itself into an assault wedge formation and pressed on as Alliance units, unaware of the combat fleet now in the area kept entering plane space to be met by concentrated enemy fire.
Technically out numbered 7 to 1, Spoor relentlessly pressed her attack since these Alliance units were in full pursuit of Dusanyu rather than organized into attack units. Some of the green units under her command broke and fled with Dusanyu's force; however, seeing that the Alliance appeared to melt before their firepower, many closed ranks with Spoor and held position, maintaining momentum and turning the tide of battle.
"They give way everywhere!", Routing the Alliance
The Alliance attempted to hurriedly organize a counter-attack in plane space. However, as reinforcements came in to try to shore up the line, they were met with their own human units coming back in retreat, disrupting formations and making organization exceedingly difficult. As Spoor's flagship brawled an enemy patrol ship, she noticed how it broke formation. Before long among her crew cheers broke out. The enemy had been broken and now routed en masse back toward Lakfakalle in the hopes of reforming a defensive line if she were to pursue. As the enemy gave way, she held position.
Having thew advantage in planar space, she chose to hold position. She understood that she now bottled up the enemy for now in Lakfakalle. Additionally with no way of knowing the enemy's movements behind the gate, she intended to hold with her only recently battle-tried fleet and await further orders. She may not have been able to decide the Battle of Lakfakalle, but in one attack she had decisively halted the enemy aggression and would buy breathing time for the Laburec to prepare a response.
The Alliance had maximized it's element of surprise and succeeded in annihilating both the Imperial Guard Fleet and the 6th Fleet Phoenix. However, Dusanyu now in contact with Spoor had maintained the integrity of his force mostly and could organize the political and military efforts out of Barke.
Spoor's attack and ability to take a green haphazardly formed fleet and to win such a victory took some of the psychological sting out of the surprise attack. Additionally, it prevented a potential military and political disaster by preserving a large portion of the fleets of Operation Phoenix and the life of now de facto Emperor Abriel Dusanyu.
The Alliance still held the strategic initiative despite the defeat;, but now bloodied force would be too damaged to pursue Dusanyu and breakout of Lakfakalle via the Barke-Ilysr sord. The Alliance still could operate behind enemy lines, using the other sords to hit-and-run positions of the Empire. That still offered a limited window where the Abh had to answer the enemy on their terms; however, the conflict now longer hung in the balance and combat effectiveness more or less could be seen as balanced once more.