Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Magyar Sector in the Rim War: Opening Moves

Confederation Invasion of Daibei (990)

In 990 the Imperial Daibei Sector Fleet had been constructed to address Aslan incursions to spinward, and as such relied more heavily on cruiser and carrier squadrons rather than capital ships. And unlike Diaspora sector, Daibei had no Imperial Depot. The Confederation Daibei Fleet contained only six subsector fleets and for the invasion was bolstered by heavier elements from Magyar sector.

Commander Coglan’s plan relied on deception, disruption, and speed to rapidly overwhelm the Imperial defenses, allowing the Solomani to deal heavy damage to the Imperial Navy in Daibei while suffering minimal losses. Confederation forces recaptured most of the worlds that had been reabsorbed by the Imperium, and in Gaalorn and Mulaar subsectors the border was pushed coreward of the old Autonomous Region another three parsecs or more, capturing Imperial systems that were never part of the Solomani Sphere. The Confederation inflicted serious damage to a major Imperial naval base at Bloddwyn (0326), but were unable to capture the system. At Durgaarurkim (2720) the Imperials mounted a fierce defense and repulsed a Confederation task force.

The Confederation moved quickly to consolidate its gains. The offensive had captured the economically important worlds of Kuliiga (0429), Zhemi (0627), Corve (1729), Tukera (2423), Muffin (0831), and Temeraire (3020). Tukera’s starport was destroyed in the fighting with great loss of life. The high population worlds of Zhemi and Muffin, with majority Solomani populations, welcomed the Confederation as liberators. But Kuliiga, Corve, Tukera, and Temeraire had significant Vilani and non-human sophont populations, and all were interdicted and suffered under the resulting Solomani occupation.

Stalemate (991–997)

Following the success of the Confederation offensive, the new Daibei border quickly stabilized. The Imperial Navy reinforced bases at Durgaarurkim, Chapel Mews (2320), Macella (2119), Aquilon (1820), and Sotto (0424). For the remainder of 990 through 992 each side fought a series of limited engagements that resulted in single worlds being traded back and forth. The heaviest fighting occurred in the Udo Cluster, 10 worlds centered on Udo/Dudin (Daibei 1922). As the Cluster was considered key to any assault on the high population Amdani subsector, the Confederation spent enormous resources attempting to establish a beachhead, but to no avail.

Confederation Sector Admiral Taskill recommended that Coglan be appointed Dudin Subsector Admiral, but SolSec overruled, citing Coglan’s reservations about the offensive as proof of “insufficient enthusiasm” toward the Solomani Cause. As a result, Commodore Coglan was given command of a modest patrol flotilla based out of Avalon/Fahlnar (Reaver's Deep 3238). The Rim War had spurred a new wave of ihatei raids up and down the length of the Confederation’s spinward frontier, and Coglan’s flotilla ranged through Reaver’s Deep and Dark Nebula, providing ample opportunity to observe and analyze Aslan attack patterns.

What Coglan realized was surprising: the Aslan attacks, which so often appeared reckless or disorganized, utilized calculated and deceptively effective tactics. Suicidal attacks by overmatched ships were actually planned sacrifices; Aslan bravado lured the unwary into traps; seemingly chaotic swarming assaults screened true objectives. Coglan used these new insights to anticipate and effectively combat the raiders, and in return the Aslan began to grudgingly call him the Khteiryos, after a mythical creature known for its devious and cunning nature.

Meanwhile Captain Kemper transferred to Imperial Sector Fleet headquarters at Warinir, where she was knighted as a Companion of the Order of Ilelish. From 990–993 she helped direct Daibei’s defences, leading sorties into Confederation-held systems. In 994 Kemper transferred to the planning staff of Grand Admiral Sakuuba, who was initially responsible for directing the Solomani Rim War. Kemper was assigned to Rear Admiral Arielle Adair. Kemper and Adair proved to be a formidable combination: both were avid students of Terran and Solomani history, and both believed that the Imperium would need to conduct the Rim War differently than any past war.

By 995 Coglan’s remarkable success against the Aslan had been noted by his superiors, who wanted to move him to the front lines of the Rim War. But once again Coglan’s public criticisms of the war prompted SolSec intervention. Instead of being given a command in Daibei or Diaspora sector, Coglan was instead transferred to the Dark Nebula Fleet, and in 996 he was named Admiral of the Akuusir Subsector Fleet. Based out of Column/Akuusir (Dark Nebula 3202), Coglan thrived under his new command.

Ironically, SolSec’s unwelcome interventions in Coglan’s career probably saved his life. Had he remained in Daibei, he very well might have found himself placed before the Imperial onslaught in Diaspora. While many of the Solomani Navy’s most promising flag officers would be lost in 998 and 999, Coglan instead was some 40 parsecs away, fortuitously placed in a remote, unsupervised theatre where he was free to experiment and innovate.

The Tide Turns (997–999)

By 997 the first of the newly raised Imperial battle fleets reached Diaspora and Old Expanses. The Admiralty felt these forces would easily break the stalemate that had endured since 993. They were wrong. Overconfident in their technological advantages, the Imperial commanders had inexperienced crews, tired naval doctrine, and most fatally, a very poor understanding of Solomani warfighting. The initial offensive proved disastrous as in battle after battle, the Confederation forces outmaneuvered and outfought the Imperials. In response, the Confederation Navy launched a withering counteroffensive into Libert, Sufren, Quinoid, and Ahrhi subectors, even striking at the important Imperial worlds of  Libert (Diaspora 1109) and Vaward (Old Expanses 1106).

In 998, following a humiliating defeat at Kmak (Old Expanses 1424), a frustrated Admiralty turned to a new generation of commanders, bitterly deemed “the rabble-rousers,” by Grand Admiral Sakuuba shortly after being dismissed. Adair was promoted to Grand Admiral of the Imperial battle fleets and Kemper became one of several newly minted admirals who were finally given the opportunity to prove their mettle against the Solomani. That was the year the tide turned.

Throughout the remainder of 998 the Imperium made steady advances into Old Expanses, and in 999 opened up a second front in Diaspora. Although successful, these campaigns were long, slow slogs. The Solomani fought fiercely and effectively while the Imperials proceeded cautiously, seeking to take worlds intact and largely fighting under the traditional Rules of War.

Planetary invasions consumed enormous resources and time and then sapped the strength of the advancing forces as each newly conquered world required garrisoning. Kemper noted that this approach was not sustainable: even the vast Imperium could only commit so many resources to the War. When asked by Grand Admiral Adair to develop a plan to open up a third front to spinward, Kemper proposed another way.

Kemper was revolutionary in her complete embrace of Solomani total war: her proposed Magyar campaign would target Class A and B starports, industrial centers, and system communication and navigation networks. Commercial ships would be seized and scuttled. Not wishing to be pinned down, she would forgo capturing worlds unless they contained a large pro-Imperial population. She was content to leave worlds largely intact provided they were left cut off from interstellar trade. Without a need to garrison captured worlds, she would be free to range far behind Solomani lines.

Opening Moves: Ultima (1000)

Kemper commanded assets drawn from the sector fleets of Verge, Ilelish, and Zarushagar. These prosperous sectors had been well insulated from most Imperial conflicts since the Ilelish Revolt (418 to 435). While these crews were relatively inexperienced, a large proportion belonged to minor Human races such as the Darmine and Suerrat, and consequently may have borne additional motivation for battling the Solomani. Their ships included older but well maintained Tiananmen-class battleships and Quiquilat-class battle riders as well as several new designs destined to become classics: Atlantic-class heavy cruisers, Azhanti High Lightning-class fleet intruders, and Inkaalur-class light battleships. The Inkaalur-class was unusually small but outfitted with mature TL 14 tech that could challenge Solomani battlecruisers. The assets also included several TL 14 capital ship designs rarely seen outside the Domain of Ilelish, including the 300,000 dt Liasdi-class fleet carrier, the 500,000 dt Triton-class heavy battleship, and the 700,000 dt Dlan-class dreadnought.

The Kemper Fleet was divided into the 4th, 9th, and 18th Provisional Imperial Battle Fleets. The 9th Battle Fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral Frida Arrighetti, was a penetration fleet intended to raid deep into enemy territory and attack specific objectives such as bases and industrial worlds.

The 18th Battle Fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral Ararat Becke, was an assault fleet, created to carry surface forces to a world and land them there in the face of heavy opposition. The 18th carried the 103rd Provisional Star Marine Division, which consisted of the 4011th, 4828th, 6419th, and 7737th Line Regiments. The 18th also carried the 333rd Lift Infantry Field Army, a  TL 14 force drawn from Amadani Subsector in Daibei. In addition to these troops the 18th was well equipped for orbital bombardment and fire support.

The 4th Battle Fleet was commanded by Kemper herself from her flagship the Arzemiir, an Atlantic-class heavy cruiser. The 4th was a true battle fleet, expressly created to engage and destroy any and all enemy vessels or forces.

Kemper’s fleets first gained experience in Diaspora in 999, where they followed the main line of attack toward the Solomani Rim, seeing action at Tarsale (2224), Eberly (2130), Waverly (1733), and bloody Alki (1136). But while the main Imperial force entered the Rim through Sulemain and Concord subsectors in 1000, Kemper wheeled spinward through the lightly populated Ultima subsector. Her primary goal was to cut off the Confederation’s Daibei and Magyar sector fleets from the Solomani Rim; with the Aslan pressing in to spinward, the Confederation would be hard-pressed to use these forces to relieve the Rim fleets. Her secondary goal was to degrade Confederation warmaking capabilities by destruction of its industrial infrastructure.

Both the Scout Service’s Intelligence Branch and Imperial Naval Intelligence were crucial to the success of Kemper’s Ultima campaign. The Scouts provided detailed economic and infrastructure data that allowed Kemper to select vulnerable critical targets. Naval Intelligence paved the way for insertion of Sylean Rangers on Amkhalarug (Solomani Rim 0301) and Darrukesh (Solomani Rim 0106) as early as 997. Both worlds had majority Vilani populations, excellent shipyards, reasonably high tech levels—and eagerly awaited Imperial liberation.

Kemper crushed Solomani naval defences in Amkhalarug, and while the 18th Fleet supported ground operations, the 4th and 9th Fleets jumped to lightly populated Atalanta (Solomani Rim 0304) and from there to Darrukesh.

Darrukesh was the key to Magyar sector. Kemper’s forces quickly overwhelmed the Solomani system defences, opening the way for an assault on the mainworld. A small Solomani elite had long controlled the Vilani majority through an oppressive police state, but the arrival of Kemper’s forces triggered a popular revolution. A Vilani junta quickly seized control of Darrukesh and within a week the Imperials controlled the entire system.

From Darrukesh Kemper could jump directly into the Anise (Magyar 2904) system, which hosted the subsector headquarters for the Confederation Navy and a major shipyard. The mainworld was a high population industrial center. And if she captured Anise she would be able to directly attack the neighboring high population, industrial worlds that lay beyond.

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