3340 Triumph of the 17th Fleet

The 17th Imperial Proactive Fleet achieves a significant victory by decimating several Chinti Swarm Fleets. This is accomplished through a coordinated operation targeting key Chinti defense systems and one swarm heart world: Szshnszz.

Given its proximity to the Chinti Domain, maintaining control over star systems is difficult. However, the fleet plans to fortify one of the Chinti's border systems, Sigma Tschzssfs, as an advanced base.

Over the past three years, ballistic shields from remote Imperial systems have been thinned out, and their active components loaded onto mega-freighters. These freighters follow the fleet to Tschzssfs, unloading parts for a ballistic shield to protect the system from high-speed attacks.

Many gigatons of material are brought in for the installation. Billions of repair and construction drones are deployed. Alongside the shield components, infrastructure is swiftly established to support the technical personnel, including five million humans and 30 million mechs. Additional freighters deliver equipment for resource extraction and numerous military auto-fabs for in-situ production of anti-ballistic ammunition. Thousands of electromagnetic catapults distribute deep-space barriers throughout the system requiring the movement of several million cubic kilometers of rock from asteroid belts into wide orbits.

The energy demand is staggering. Eighty gas miners secure the fuel supply for thousands of fusion parks scattered throughout the system. These colossal miners, incapable of interstellar travel on their own, were transported using the empire's largest faster-than-light tugs. They set out months ago. Meanwhile, Imperial worlds depend on stockpiled fuel reserves. Over ten thousand freighters form a supply line from the closest Imperial planets to Sigma Tschzssfs, escorted by squadrons diverted from their usual commercial protection duties.

Throughout the build-up, the system facing relentless attacks must constantly be defended. Though weakened, the Swarm Fleets persist in their assaults for months, aiming to thwart the fortification efforts. Three other defense fleets, usually assigned to populous systems, have been transferred to Tschzssfs. The victorious 17th Fleet has also moved there. Supported by mobile repair platforms drawn from several fleets, the 17th's damaged vessels are repaired and resupplied on-site to avoid lengthy transit times. Thousands of civilian freighters serve as temporary missile platforms until the military infrastructure is operational. They form the first line of defense suffering heavy losses.

The Imperial High Command is taking a significant risk to secure Sigma Tschzssfs as a bridgehead. The plan is to advance from there into the Chinti Domain. But for that, the system must be fortified so that even years of saturation attacks cannot overcome its defenses. If successful, the Empire would possess an operational base for swift incursions into the Chinti Domain, tying up significant enemy forces around Tschzssfs permanently.

This plan needs infrastructure that would typically take decades to establish in wealthy star systems. But now it must be set up in record time. The High Command is going all-in.

Anticipating this breakthrough, the defense of other Imperial star systems was weakened. Essential military forces were relocated, and vast amounts of resources were mobilized. The massive demand for freight capacities causes a noticeable decline in the empire's interstellar trade. The relocation of forces compromises the remaining fleets' effectiveness. As a result, several skirmishes, and the 3rd Battle at Ithacae are lost. The base of the (reduced) 21st Defense Fleet at Ithacae is destroyed and Ithacae itself is obliterated by kinetic strikes, resulting in the tragic loss of 200 million lives, 30 million of which are final.

Losing the 17th Fleet would have been a significant strategic setback. Not just because of the military defeat, but because a defeat would have resulted in a significant misallocation of resources, which, assuming a victory, had been accumulated for years and then brought close to Tschzssfs over months. Vast amounts of equipment and material would have been stranded close to the Chinti Domain if the 17th Fleet had failed its objectives.

But the plan worked. The 17th Fleet was victorious.

The bridgehead can be fortified. Now the Empire has the strategic initiative and doesn't relinquish it anymore.

Over the next 20 years, the Chinti civilization is pacified. They are defeated, demilitarized, reduced, marginalized, and ultimately largely eradicated.