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by Harold Hale
Terran naval assets in the form of the Third Fleet (100 ships), the Van Helsing Squadron (90 ships) and elements from Second Fleet (50 ships) engaged a Vampire ship armada of approximately 200 vessels led by a Puppeteer Virus which called itself, "Tamberlane", in reality a 500,000 ton battletender. Additionally, the Terrans had a garrison of 50,000 Marines stationed on Ganesh itself with a number of planetary defense batteries and local defense forces. Vampire landing craft transported some 200 AFVs and an undetermined number of armed robots for the purpose of a planetary invasion.
Unknown to the Terrans, Tamberlane's Vampire fleet had patrolled the jump-1 main through the subsector for a number of years since the Collapse, growing in strength as it absorbed stragglers from the Vampire Highway. Its legions included several large TL 15 Imperial warships that were more than a match for any single vessel in the Terran Republic Navy. Tamberlane visited the Ganesh system rather infrequently prior to 1202, as it appeared quite confident that the humans there were no threat, and the lack of a gas giant made refueling for most vessels difficult. However, a visit by a black globe equipped Vampire scout ship in 1202 revealed the presence of a significant naval force which Tamberlane mistakenly believed was being constructed by the humans of Ganesh. Mustering all of its forces for a single strike, it hoped to eliminate this new threat.
Tamberlane's Vampire fleet on the other hand included predominantly TL 15 designs, many of those front line warships at the time of the Rebellion. Though short on expendable munitions such as missiles, most of the ships were in good repairs due to maintenance they had recently received at Champa.
The bulk of Tamberlane's forces arrived in the outer system of Ganesh in late 1202, waiting and observing Ganesh. Prior to the arrival of the bulk of the Terran naval forces, several vessels were deployed in Ganesh's planetoid belt where they sat silently waiting for the Ganesh humans to send their forces out to explore.
On 005-1203, the Terran main body, consisting of some 200 vessels arrive in system, approximately in the vicinity of the 100 planetary diameter limit of Ganesh. Tamberlane's scouts soon encountered this force and reported it to Tamberlane. Tamberlane redeployed its forces into the planetoid belt, and proceeded with plans to ambush the Terran fleet.
In the days prior to deploying their main force to Ganesh, the Terrans had conducted a complete reconnaissance of the Ganesh system. However, they failed to deploy adequate sensor drones in the planetoid belt to cover the approach of an enemy fleet. This was to prove an unfortunate and costly mistake.
After several hours of confused, often bitter fighting climaxed by the Terran light cruiser Ajax ramming a Vampire dreadnought (an action that destroyed both ships), the remnants of the Van Helsing Squadron and Second Fleet withdrew from the asteroid belt and back to Ganesh. Tamberlane's ships had also been mauled, losing over a third of the entire force, however, its loses were smaller than the Terrans, who had lost well over half their vessels.
The Terrans, demoralized by their defeat at the hands of the Vampire forces during the first phase of the battle, attempted to reorganize themselves for the defense of Ganesh proper. Admiral Leung aboard his flagship Orion, personally directed the main line of defense.
The Vampire attack employed a classical maneuver using a number of black globe equipped ships to drift past the Terran fleet and then decloak attacking at point blank range, while the reminder of the fleet engaged the Terrans in a more conventional attack. The combined strike broke the Terran line and destroyed the Orion with all hands aboard. The Terran fleet took heavy losses as they began a general withdrawal, but inflicted tremendous losses on the attacking Vampire forces in the process. By the conclusion of this phase of the battle, Tamberlane's forces had access to Ganesh orbit, but it had cost it all of its capital vessels with the exception of Tamberlane itself.
The attack commenced on 11-1102. The Terrans had early success destroying several of the transports that had landed the Vampire ground forces, but were soon bogged down in an orbital shooting match with the rest of Tamberlane's Vampire fleet, which had just finished refueling. This phase of the battle ended in a Terran victory, though once again the price had been high, with an additional 25 ships knocked out of action. Tamberlane itself took several hits for missile and meson gun fire and was forced to break orbit, which it did with about a half dozen other assorted vessels. The remainder of Tamberlane's fleet was destroyed or disabled.
Upon arriving at Arrukir on 21-1203, he discovered the Terran outpost there in total disarray, the result of the panic induced by news of the destruction of most of Third Fleet and the Van Helsing Squadron. Silva took charge of the remainder of Second Fleet, and soon restored order, preparing the outpost for what he felt was an eminent attack.
In fact, the additional Vampire ships seen entering the Ganesh system where scout vessels Tamberlane had sent out to check on the status of the Catania system. Finding no enemy warships there, they immediately jumped back to Ganesh. Tamberlane retired with this force and what was left of its Vampire fleet from the Ganesh system on 14-1203, retreating back up the jump-1 main toward Champa. From there its fate is unknown, but it is believed to either to have been destroyed by a superior Vampire fleet headed up or down the Vampire Highway, or was absorbed by another Vampire fleet and taken coreward.
The Terrans sent several scout ships back into the Ganesh system over the next couple of weeks before finally arriving in force on 43-1203. By then the battle planetside was virtually over, both sides having inflicted heavy casualties without being able to dominate the other completely. VI Corps still controlled much of the southern hemisphere, however, the Vampire army controlled an equatorial archipelago and much of the northern hemisphere. Orbital support from the Terran Republic Navy proved to be the decisive factor, and over the next month all Vampire resistance was destroyed.
The battle also changed Terran Republic expansion policy which soon afterward emphasized exploration and annexation rimward of the Republic. Plans for coreward expansion were permanently halted, and exploration was put on hold until Menelaus petitioned in 1207 to become a part of the Meshan Accords. Their participation in that agreement led ultimately to contact with the Reformation Coalition in 1208.