Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Solomani Rim War: Daibei Sector

In order to understand what might have happened in Magyar sector during the Solomani Rim War it is nearly as important to have a handle on neighboring Daibei sector. A sizable part of Daibei falls within the 50-parsec limit of the Solomani Autonomous Region, and as such the Confederation and the Imperium would have shared a significant border at the start of the Rim War. The T20 supplement Fighting Ships of the Solomani Confederation (FSotSC) notes that the Confederation of the 990s maintained a Daibei Sector Fleet, also charged with the protection of Solomani worlds in Reavers Deep.

One curiosity about Daibei is that no Rim War battles are shown on the map of “Wars of the Imperium” in the MegaTraveller Imperial Encyclopedia—though it’s not clear how much weight should be placed on that observation. The cartographer might have simply taken some liberties to avoid overlap with the Aslan Border Wars, which enfulfed much of the sector. Rim War fighting in Daibei is briefly mentioned in FSotSC as well as GURPS Traveller: Rim of Fire and the Mongoose Solomani alien module.

I’ve therefore assumed that while there were almost certainly Rim War battles in Daibei, there was no major, sustained campaign: after a lightning quick offensive captured many worlds on the Imperial side of the border, the front line soon stabilized. During the final phase of the War the Confederation presumed that the Imperium would open up a third, spinward front by pushing rimward through Daibei, but Admiral Kemper surprised everyone by attacking Magyar through the Solomani Rim instead.

The MegaTraveller Rebellion setting, set some 120 years after the Rim War, describes a Second Rim War in which a new Solomani invasion of Daibei is repulsed by fleets initially loyal to the Imperium and then aligned with the independent Federation of Daibei. To me this suggests that the inhabitants of Daibei are not strongly drawn to the Solomani Cause—perhaps due to the Imperium’s historical role in fending off Aslan incursions, or the significant non-human populations: for example, the Evantha worlds in the Tukera Cluster. All this leads me to suspect that the Confederation found only tepid support on Daibei worlds captured in the opening weeks of the first Solomani Rim War.

FSotSC contains a nice description of the opening of the Rim War in Diaspora sector; from that we can infer where the Imperial Confederation borders lay in 990 and extrapolate this to the borders of Daibei, which is how I developed speculative maps for Daibei and Diaspora during the Rim War period.

In working through Daibei, I came up with a rationale for how the Solomani might have captured so many worlds without much of a fight: the Lorimer Massacre. I also identified one system that probably did not succumb without a struggle: the Aslan world of Oifuerr.

The Lorimer Massacre

Prior to the Solomani Rim War, Udo (Daibei 1922) was the Imperial capital of Dudin subsector and the seat of Duke Edmuir Ventura. The Imperial 189th Fleet was assigned to Dudin and also charged with the defense of the Tukera Cluster in neighboring Cruxway subsector. Duke Edmuir, a weak and dissolute noble, was an enthusiast of the Solomani Movement who at some point in the 980s fell under the influence of SolSec. His older brother Errol was killed under mysterious circumstances in 987, possibly assassinated by SolSec operatives, and Edmuir was appointed Subsector Duke in 988.

On the eve of the War Ventura orchestrated the infamous Lorimer Massacre, in which his own huscarles murdered Subsector Admiral Shana Ergashi along with the Marquis of Baarn, the Viscount of Fender, and the Count of Corve along with their immediate families. Only Contessa Ilenna Rainier of Tukera and her family survived, fleeing to the Imperial Naval Base at Aquilon (Daibei 1820). Following the massacre Captain Harald Lang, Admiral Ergashi’s second-in-command and also a SolSec asset, ordered the 189th Fleet to stand down during the invasion.

Ventura’s treachery was compounded by extensive SolSec infiltration of the Imperial Daibei Sector Fleet. Confederation operatives used stolen high-level access codes to implant an ingenious virus named NESSUS into the the command and control networks of fleet assets. NESSUS propagated through compromised system updates but lay dormant until activation, when it crippled shipboard sensor and navigation systems. An Imperial Naval Board of Inquiry would later estimate some 31% of all Daibei Sector Fleet assets had been infected with NESSUS. Between Ventura and NESSUS, the Confederation was able to capture dozens of Daibei systems without firing a single shot.

Ventura was rewarded with a bullet to the back of his head from his own Defense Minister, General Leda Emmett. The General declared martial law and pledged loyalty to the Imperium, which promptly interdicted the Udo system. The 10 worlds of the Udo Cluster became the site of seven pitched naval battles in 991 and 992, though the Confederation was unable to gain purchase there.

Captain Lang was initially fĂȘted as a Hero of the Confederation but in 993 he was arrested by SolSec agents and died in a Confederation prison in either 998 or 999.

The Siege of Oifuerr

Following the initial success of the Daibei offensive, the Confederation labored to absorb worlds that still held Imperial sympathies, such as Oifuerr (Daibei 1637) in Hermes subsector. The system contains only its M4 V primary, three gas giants, two secondary worlds, and the high-population industrial mainworld, valued for its rich lanthanum mines. Oifuerr is a moon orbiting the innermost gas giant Iytra in orbit 2. Oifuerr was also the highest population world in the subsector with approximately 48 billion Aslan inhabitants, representing one of the most significant populations of “Imperialized” Aslan in the region.

Although located some 5 parsecs within the border of the Autonomous Region, Oifuerr suffered under Solomani rule and in 940 Empress Margaret II established a permanent Imperial garrison in the system. Solomani cynics claimed this gesture was motivated more by concern for the lanthanum mines rather than the Aslan inhabitants.

By 990 the garrison consisted of the 763rd Imperial BatRon (Trokh: Tekhukhauleatealrao)—an understrength squadron of Timarin-class battle-riders—and the 354th Lift Infantry Field Army, drawn largely from Duurmurze (Daibei 0922). The garrison was supported by colonial assets consisting of a full squadron of Kapamir-class 25,000 dt heavy monitors, two squadrons of Seydlitz-class strike monitors, 6 wings of system defense boats, and 4 wings of heavy fighters. Although a nearly airless, low-gravity desert world, Oifuerr also fielded 9 colonial field armies outfitted at TL 12.

The Confederation assumed that Oifuerr would offer only limited resistance once the initial Daibei offensive was complete, but instead the lone system mounted one of the most determined and effective defences outside of Old Expanses. Over the course of 11 months Oifuerr drove back no less than four separate Confederation attempts to establish naval superiority. The Imperial battle riders and heavy monitors inflicted grievous losses on Confederation battlecruisers.

But isolated from the Imperium and lacking many important natural resources, after five months the Oifuerr defenses began to flag. And even after the Imperial space assets were worn down the ground forces mounted their own valiant resistance of the mainworld. The Confederation made several attempted landings but were dealt setback after setback. Finally, by using close coordination of naval firepower, the Imperial 354th Army was pinned and largely destroyed outside Khalahar Down starport.

Weary Confederation commanders decided to end the siege through orbital bombardments rather than risk more ground assaults. They chose to make an example of the Wyaholeah Arcology, a target with no military or industrial value but an important cultural center for the Aslan. The resulting destruction killed 2 million civilians and leveled Wyaholeah. Oifuerr surrendered shortly thereafter. The survivors of the 354th Imperial Army were rounded up and shipped to Solomani prison camps. For the duration of the war Aslan across Daibei and Magyar sectors were resettled on Oifuerr and often forced into labor at the lanthanum mines.

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