|This article, Battle of Hemera, was written by Apollostriumph. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
-Captain Bradley's last murmuring words.
The Battle of Hemera was one of the last Mid-war conflicts of the Swarm War, and took place between the Swarm and the UCG comprised of Allegiance and UNSC forces. The battle is most well known for Bradley's Sacrifice and the costly success of defending the otherwise doomed Theran world.
|Battle of Hemera|
September 22, 2654
Swarm Capital ship destroyed
Beginning of the Battle
Captain John Bradley, commander of the Watchman, was assigned to a UNSC freighter escort bound for Reach, when he received and incoming transmission directly from HIGHCOM. Bradley had been notified that a Swarm invasion fleet had appeared near Hemera, and the Allegiance had sent out a distress call for much needed aid in defending the world. Bradley, along with several hundred other UNSC ships from across the galaxy, were ordered to aid the Therans in the defense of Hemera. After the Watchman successfully escorted it's freighters to Reach, Bradley and his crew immediately set course for Hemera, where they regrouped with the ever-growing UNSC joint-Naval force. Hemera was already heavily defended by the Therans, with Allegiance reinforcements pouring in from all across the Milky Way with each passing minute. Captain Bradley was given command of the human fleet, and scattered his vessels ordering them to fall in line with Allegiance ships.
The first two hours after Bradley's arrival were merely massive amounts of allied ships entering the system and gathering over Hemera. The amount of ships numbered in the tens of thousands, one of the largest allied fleets since Operation: RECLAIMER several years before. Captain Bradley was reunited with his friend from many years ago at the very beginning of the war, Lord Indromil, famous for his exploits at the Battle of the Antaeus Nebula and saving Bradley's ship from certain destruction. Lord Indromil would be leading the defense force in cooperation with Bradley.
at 1100 hours, the first wave of Swarm ships arrived, numbering only a few thousand ships in total, vastly outnumbered by the UCG counterforce fleet which immediately engaged them. The goal of the defense campaign was to prevent Swarm forces from reaching the surface of Hemera; by any means necessary. Over the years Bradley had grown a deep-seated resentment for the Swarm in the many battles he had fought, and the atrocities he had witnessed the Swarm commit on sentient life and the worlds he fought to defend. Bradley proposed a plan used six years ago by the late Lord Thakan Duras in the Battle of the Bliss, involving targeting Hive ships and nuking the enemy fleet whilst they lost their footing. Indromil would object to the strategy, not yet seeing a need for it due to their number and technological superiority.
The fighting between the two sides ended within a span of only fourty five minutes, with the Swarm fleet defeated and it's remaining vessels bugging out to the outer edges of the system; whilst only a couple hundred ships had been lost on the side of the UCG. Bradley offered to give chase to the surviving swarm vessels, but Indromil wisely refused, stating that their numbers were still unknown and it may have been a trap. Indromil's prediction would prove correct, when ten minutes afterward the second wave arrived, more than double the size of the first. This wave had been comprised with much more heavy cruisers and destroyers rather than Hive ships or frigate escorts. Bradley and Indromil believed that this wave was designed to destroy the fleet, whilst the first was meant to survey their forces and possibly hasten the seeding process.
The UCG fleet still outnumbered the Hive groups but not nearly as vastly as before. Heavy casualties would be inflicted on both sides of the battle, and it was at this point that Indromil adopted Bradley's proposition. Only six Hive ships were located in the Swarm fleet, and were located in the central heart of their battlegroups. Bradley lead a charge in his flagship The Watchman, with a battlelegroup of over six hundred UNSC and Allegiance vessels, plowing into the enemy lines and leaving a deep scar in the Swarm's invasion force. The attack group finally managed to reach the center line, losing two hundred vessels just to reach it. Despite being surrounded, they had a clear line of sight of the Hive ships, and began concentrated fire using the Theran Wolfpack Maneuver to break the ships up and leave them vulnerable. Three Hive ships managed to be destroyed before Bradley's assault force had sustained too many casualties to keep their momentum. He lead a swift retreat back to Theran lines and continued to press the attack against the Swarm. Indromil's fleet fired a copious number of Orbital Lances into the Swarm lines, devastating much of their fleet and leaving them almost unable to continue with their attack.
Despite suffering extreme losses, the Swarm continued to press on, slowly chipping away at the UCG defense force, prompting Indromil to call for reinforcements from Britannia and Earth. They would get their reinforcements, but only a handful of UNSC and Allegiance vessels arrived, as the UCG could not afford to move any more vessels defending other worlds in fear of the Swarm launching a multi-pronged offensive, which ONI had believed they would commit to for quite some time. The continued skirmish after the subsequent bombardment of the Swarm's second wave marked the Mid-battle period.
The Watchman had sustained light damage from his previous offensive, and retreated to the back of the defensive line for quick repairs before throwing himself back into the fray. As the Swarm's second wave dwindled to the breaking point, a third Swarm wave much larger than the second arrived, followed immediately by the fourth and the fifth; the extermination waves. For the first time in the battle, UCG forces were outnumbered by the Swarm fleet that numbered almost one million. All of their Hive ships located on the outermost parts of the fleet, which Indromil would attempt to use to his advantage.
He committed to using the Duras method two more times, cutting massive holes into the Swarm's invasion fleet, but would only be filled again by the sheer number of their vessels. It was at this point that the UCG began suffering more and more losses, with their fleet slowly beginning to dwindle after two, now three large scale engagements against the Swarm. Hive ships gathered around Hemera's moon, Lunara, and began seeding the celestial body; but were met with heavy resistance by Theran troops stationed on Lunara. UNSC marines were soon dropped onto the surface of the moon, and aided in the efforts of exterminating the growing Swarm presence and setting up platforms to engage enemy vessels from the lunar surface.
Despite being pushed further and further back, eventually ending up in high orbit over the surface of Hemera and sustaining heavy losses, Indromil believed he had found the chip in the Swarm's armor. Allegiance fighters spotted a Hive ship, much larger than it's counterparts, within the back of the fleet. Indromil believed this to be the Swarm's capital ship, and where all of their commands and tactics were coming from. As Captain Bradley returned to the front, Indromil notified him of this immediately, and Bradley agreed to one more deep push into the enemy lines to secure victory for the fleet.
However at this point in the battle, the UCG defense force had sustained too many losses to send out a battlegroup with the size and firepower to plow through an entire Swarm invasion fleet, leaving Bradley with a group of one hundred ships to take on a Swarm fleet of over six hundred thousand vessels. Bradley wound instead commit his forces to flanking the Swarm fleet and hopefully catch the hive ship in another Wolfpack Maneuver. However, it seemed that the Swarm were expecting him, as the Capital ship they encountered was guarded by several thousand frigates and destroyers. Meanwhile, a large group of Swarm ships broke off of the main line and dashed for Hemera, where they were quickly intercepted by an outnumbered group of UNSC vessels that arrived to reinforce the front. The UNSC were taking an unsustainable amount of casualties in trying to prevent them from launching their seeders, and Indromil's forces were waning and low on ammo.
End-Battle and Bradley's Sacrifice
Bradley's attack force was almost immediately thwarted and engaged by thousands of Swarm vessels, with the Watchman sustaining significant damage in the ensuing conflict. Indromil's forces were being routed and pushed into low orbit, with only four thousand allied ships remaining in tact and fighting. Theran and UNSC ground forces were successful in holding the line on the moon, however as more and more Swarm vessels arrived, they became heavily outnumbered and pinned down at almost all tactical positions.
Bradley stood on the bridge of his vessel, watching ship after ship fall apart from the attacking enemy bombardments. The life support on the ship was beginning to fail, ammunition was low, and multiple hull breaches were detected throughout the destroyer. He listened to the desperate transmissions firing throughout the entire allied fleet, with Indromil announcing all units to fall back and prepare for surface engagements. Captain Bradley then turned to his crewman who stood in silence, asking him what they should do and how they should proceed. The captain paused, before finally moving his lips.
"Helmsman, plot a collision course, all ahead flank."
The helmsman reluctantly nodded, and Bradley ordered all of his personnel to escape and return to assist Lord Indromil. Many left, but a select loyal few remained at Bradley's side, and plotted a collision course for the Hive Capital ship. Bradley ordered the remaining UNSC vessels to cluster around him and fire all available ordinance into the enemy frigates. Some ships broke off and entered slipspace to retreat, but many stayed. Those that did soaked up and dealt as much damage as possible, escorting the battered Watchman to the Hive ship. Once Bradley's vessel arrived, the surviving UNSC ships broke off and made a desperate dash for the orbit of Hemera. The Watchman collided with the 12-kilometer long ship, plunging deep into the organic core of the vessel. There was a long pause, before the Watchman self-destructed, dealing extreme damage to the ship, but the Hive vessel remained barely active.
The resulting impact caused the Swarm ships to break apart and some to even retreat. Indromil ordered one final desperate charge, destroying as many Swarm ships as possible in a mighty charge that dwarfed his first. The UCG pushed all the way to the back of the line, where they saw the remains of Bradley's ship embedded deep into the Capital vessel. An infuriated Lord Indromil obliterated what remained of it with a great deal of rage and ferocity. The surviving Swarm forces were in full retreat, routed and defeated they abandoned the invasion and returned to Swarm-occupied Space.
Captain John Bradley followed in the footsteps of his dear friend, Commander Bruce Ornstein; who once sacrificed himself in the same way at the battle of the Antaeus Nebula, at the beginning of this horrid war. Bradley had debts to pay to both Bruce and Indromil for saving his life and his men. On that day, he paid them both.
Captain Bradley and his crew were awarded the Theran Shield for their brave sacrifice to defend Hemera. The remaining escaped crew and the UNSC forces that stayed to protect the Watchman were honored and recognized as well. Those who escaped without orders were found and court marshalled for their abandonment of Bradley's offensive. Lord Indromil would from this day suffer from depression, but fought on several more occasions leading up to the end of the war.
Captain Bradley's sacrifice remains to this day one of the most well-recognized moments in the Swarm War, and is revered as a great hero next to Thakan Duras, Admiral Cole and Bruce Ornstein.