HMS Fearless, commanded by Commander Honor Harrington engaged the Havenite Q-ship Sirius, commanded by Captain Johan Coglin. Fearless destroyed Sirius, but was so heavily damaged that she was decommissioned thereafter.
Prior to arriving on station, Fearless had its missile broadside capabilities gutted to serve as a testbed for an experimental weapons system utilizing a grav lance in conjunction with energy torpedoes. The results proved unfavorable, so the ship and its crew were virtually exiled to the remote Basilisk system.
Sirius was stationed in orbit around Medusa as part of Operation Odysseus, under the guise of a damaged merchant ship awaiting replacement parts from home. The officers of Fearless found her claims to be suspect, and they launched an investigation. They discovered that her node complement was very unusual for a merchant ship, and it showed none of the claimed damage.
When Odysseus went awry due to the Medusan troops going out of control and launching the attack prematurely, Havenite consul Wallace Canning ordered the Q-ship to break orbit and notify the awaiting People's Navy task force to abort the operation. The departure of Sirius confirmed Harrington's suspicions, but she incorrectly believed that the ship was leaving to summon the Havenite invasion force.
Fearless detached her Marines to suppress the Medusan insurrection and disabled the Havenite courier boat by damaging the beta nodes in a near collision. She then pursued Sirius as she attempted to leave the system. Meanwhile, dispatch boat LME-970 went to Manticore via the Terminus to declare a Case: Zulu - "invasion imminent." (HH1)
Course of battle
Harrington hailed Sirius and demanded that she heave to and submit for inspection, but received no response even after firing a warning shot. Encountering jettisoned disguise plates for the supposed merchantman's weapons, she deduced that Sirius was a Q-ship and prepared for an armed response. When Fearless got closer, Sirius opened fire with chase missile launchers, but these were effectively shot down or defeated by the cruiser's decoys, with no hits scored after over 90 launches.
Upon reaching a range of 24 light seconds, Fearless launched two missiles, scoring one hit. Sirius then escalated her salvo size from two missiles to six, forcing Fearless to adopt evasive maneuvers. Even so, a hit to the bow damaged the cruiser's forward impeller nodes and slowed her acceleration, in addition to destabilizing Fusion One's bottle.
The two ships continued to exchange fire, but the smaller Fearless was less able to take damage than Sirius was, and although she eventually restored her impeller to full strength, she was also forced to jettison Fusion One before it exploded. Noting that Fearless's broadside was severely underpowered, Coglin suspected that it must somehow be damaged, so he maneuvered Sirius for a broadside engagement. Harrington responded by luring Sirius into energy range by allowing her to cross her bow. Harrington then deployed her ship's experimental grav lance and energy torpedoes to destroy the Q-ship at point-blank range. (HH1)
The Havenite task force entered the Basilisk system on schedule under Operation Odysseus, only to be greeted by Manticore's Home Fleet performing "unscheduled war games." It was thereafter decided to protect the Basilisk System with a full task force, and the junction terminus obtained fixed defenses. The Act of Annexation was severely altered to ensure control of the star system. (HH1ch.32, HH8)
In retaliation for the attack on Fearless and the attempt to subvert the Star Kingdom's sovereignty over the Basilisk system, Manticore imposed strict boarding and search requirements on all civilian Havenite ships passing through the Manticore Wormhole Junction, and banned its use by Havenite warships.
Admiral Sonja Hemphill, who had originally ordered most of Fearless's armament replaced with the grav lance and energy torpedoes, saw the results of the battle as a validation of her design. Harrington was conversely certain that her crew would not have sustained such severe losses with the ship's original loadout, and harshly criticized Hemphill during the Weapons Development Board review of the battle. (HH1ch.32)
A Havenite court convicted Harrington in absentia of murdering the crew of Sirius. Manticore rejected the charges as Sirius was a Q-ship, not a freighter, and had fired first in any case. Harrington and several members of Fearless' crew were awarded various medals and meritorious promotions, with Harrington receiving a double promotion to Captain (SG), further stressing Manticore's position on the matter. Later, Haven used the conviction to portray Harrington as an unstable, bloodthirsty lunatic during the alliance negotiations with the Protectorate of Grayson. (HH2ch.6) After Harrington was captured in the Third Battle of Adler, Committeewoman Cordelia Ransom attempted to carry out this death sentence at Camp Charon in the Cerberus System in 1911 PD. (HH7)
Harrington's sailplane plaque was damaged during the battle. (HH3)
A total of 107 crew on board the Fearless were killed, and 58 wounded. Fatalities included:
- Lieutenant Commander Dominica Santos
- Lieutenant (SG) Panowski
- Lieutenant Allen Manning
- Lieutenant Stevens
- Chief Petty Officer Braun
- Engineering Specialist Angela Earnhardt