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Dark Berry Islands civil war

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Dark Berry Islands civil war
Date 1 IV 1699 AN – 20 XIII 1706 AN
Location Dark Berry Islands, Keltia
Result Decisive Sofian victory
  • Sofian rule on DBI through Council of Women
  • Oswin flees
  • Annexation of the FKR by the Hexarchy
  • Establishment of Apollonian colonies in West Keltia
Belligerents
Sofians
  • Dark Berry Islands Federal Republic
  • DBI Armed Forces
  • DBI Police
  • Council of Women
  • Pro-Sofian militia

Support:
Hurmu Hurmu
Lac Glacei Lac Glacei
The Hexarchy The Hexarchy

Oswinians
  • Free Keltian Republic
  • DBI Youth
  • Coxley Crew
  • Pro-Oswinian militia
  • Vanic terrorists in West Karnak
Commanders and leaders
Sofia Fasthey Oswin Fasthey

The Dark Berry Islands civil war, lasting seven years from 1.IV.1699 AN to 20.XIII.1706 AN, was a conflict surrounding the leadership of the Dark Berry Islands. Following the independence of the Dark Berry Islands in 1688, a number of domestic issues which had left an ineffective and unpopular leadership allowed for a coup by a political dissident, who began a brutal authoritarian campaign to install himself as the leader of the country and to install an authoritarian and paternalistic government centred around a cult-of-personality. Despite gaining control of the majority of land in the country, the establishment of a rival functioning government, set up by the sister of the tyrant, and intervention by neighbouring countries, namely Hurmu, Lac Glacei and the Hexarchy on her behalf, swung the tide of the war, and eventually the installation of a new democratic regime on the islands and the end of the authoritarian tyranny.

The eight year conflict saw numerous deaths and human rights abuses and sent scores of refugees to neighbouring countries and saw much of the infrastructure of the islands destroyed. Neighbouring countries, unable to now rely on the Dark Berry Islands as a staging post for commerce in the Strait of Pearls, began to establish colonies in territories in Western Keltia as a way to bypass the islands, and the conflict also helped provide a regeneration of the cause of Vanic terrorists in Keltia and Lyrica.

Background

A map of the Dark Berry Islands, produced prior to the war. The part of the Keltian mainland depicted was the location of the so-called Free Keltian Republic, set up and founded by Oswin Fasthey and the Coxley Crew.

The formal independence and global recognition of the Dark Berry Islands in 1688 had been largely a cause championed by the islands' youth, who viewed formal international recognition as a prerequisite for participating in the global economy and bringing material wealth, development and job opportunities to the islands. Whilst this was initially resisted by the islands legislature, increasing calls from activists, and sensing the possibility of the islands' youth emigrating, the island elders elected Nicholas Featherford as President of the islands and formulated their independence.

A major issue of the time had been the increasing radicalisation of some youth activist groups, particularly in the DBI Youth, which had gained notoriety in the years leading up to independence for their attacks on the island council, frequently pelting members with food, as well as forming road blocks in order to try and disrupt movements. However, following the islands' independence, the activities of these groups began to die down.

There was however, a myth, that had been leftover from the independence. Oswin Fasthey, an activist belonging to the DBI Youth, who had murdered his father and beaten his younger sister, had gone on the run from the authorities, fleeing to Keltia in 1686. Over the following decade, he had begun to found a colony, known in some circles as the Free Keltian Republic, which became a safe haven for the more radical of the DBI Youth's following. Although at the time it was thought he had died in a storm whilst trying to escape on boat, it was later revealed that he had been aided by a wing of the DBI Youth, known as the Coxley Crew, who, subsequently had managed to gain political influence in the DBI government. By 1696, Oswin's Free Keltian Republic had become public knowledge, and the DBI government was doing little to prevent the activities of it, despite offers from The Hexarchy.

As a result, Oswin was able to conduct raids into the Green in order to collect, weapons, ammunition and recruits, as he and the Coxley Crew, who were frustrated by the stalemate of the DBI government and resented the "old boys club" feel of the parliamentarians, began to plot a coup.

1699 Coup d'état

Prior to the 1699 elections, which were due to be held in on 24.V.1699, the ruling Independence Party had begun to distance themselves from Oswin's activities, and had campaigned on a promise of shutting down Oswin's colony, which had started to garner a reputation as a haven for criminals. Despite the DBI Youth retaining popularity amongst the young. The island's elders came out in force, and the Independence Party won 61.4% of the total vote, gaining all but one seat on the Island Council. They had also cut back on young candidates, and upon the result of the election results being announced, the DBI Youth issued an ultimatum to Featherford telling him to leave the Free Keltian Republic alone and to grant Oswin amnesty, or leave office. Whilst originally Featherford said he would be willing to come to a compromise with the rebels, talks broke down, and after he gave a speech on the final day of the fifth month, in which he declared that "we must take all necessary steps to shut down the Free Keltian Republic", The DBI Youth revolted.

On 1.IV.1699, boats and ships came from the Free Keltian Republic to Mountainview Bay, with some 1,500 volunteers on 1,000 vessels, carrying plenty of ammunition and weapons, and met up with 5,000 DBI Youth supporters in the harbour of the city, which they overran, allowing the vessels to dock easily and unload. A fire fight broke out between police and the group, who led by Oswin, adopted the name 'Oswinians' to refer to themselves, but the Oswinians were once again able to outnumber and resist the police, who retreated towards the parliament building, there, despite their best efforts, the police and security were overwhelmed easily, and the Oswinians were able to break in. Here, Oswin led all five members of the Island Council to the main chamber, and forced the in house Television company to air a live broadcast to the nation. In this broadcast, Fasthey conducted a show trial, listing all the supposed crimes of the island council members, before declaring that they must be executed, with each member lined up directly infront of the television camera and shot in the side of the head by Fasthey himself. Subsequently, Fasthey coronated himself as the "King" of the "Imperial Realm of the Glorious Dark Berry Islands".

Outbreak of the War

The fall of the Federal Republic brought about chaos, as the Oswinians made rapid gains in Mountainview Bay. Despite the DBI Youth's apparent popularity in the election, many islanders were willing to support Oswin, both out of a fear of being executed but also out of frustration for what had been a bureaucratic regime prior. During the march through the North Island, however, some members of the DBI Youth engaged in torture and rape of local women. With reports of these being suppressed, Sofia Fasthey, the younger sister of Oswin, began publishing her old diary entries detailing the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her elder brother, and, despite initially resisting, agreed to try and start a counter-revolutionary force that would try and stop her brother's movement from taking over the islands.

Whilst the government in Mountainview Bay had been toppled, many of armed forces and the police, along with several government officials, continued fighting the Oswinians, They had particular support on the South Island, and set up a provisional capital in Grapeseed.

Siege of South Island (1699–1701)

With the government setting up in Grapeseed and aiming to rebuild from there, the Oswinians were given a major chance of taking over North Island, which they did, rapidly. The first village to be taken, Peak-of-the-Gods, was the village in which both Oswin and Sofia had grown up in, and when the Oswinians turned up to take it over, they were met with little resistance. Sofia was placed under house arrest, with soldiers stationed around the perimeter of her farm to prevent her escape, and the Oswinians were able to march through the rest of North Island without much opposition, with many locals knowing that they did not possess any means of resistance. As such, the Oswinians were able to establish effective governance over North Island very quickly, including taking over tax collection to fund their war effort.

However, the focus on the North Island had allowed the federal government to build up on the South Island. However, the young population outside, especially those outside of Grapeseed, were not entirely satisfied with the federal government, and although not wishing to be ruled by the Oswinians, were reluctant to be recruited for the war effort.

The apathy effectively led to the South Island to become something of a sitting duck. Although the DBI were able to recruit enough to deter an immediate invasion, the island was put under a blockade, preventing anyone from leaving or arriving in the island. This quickly drained resources, as the South Island was reluctant on imports for many things, including medicines. Although food was still available, water started to become more scarce, and by the end of 1699, the Oswinians, who had managed to salvage some old military jets abandoned on the North Island, become to infrequently bomb supply lines and fields in the North.

The aim from the Oswinians was not to kill those in the South, though of course this was still sometimes an unintended consequence of their actions, but instead to prove the incapability of the DBI government in order to quickly allow for the Oswinains to gain support for a future invasion. However, this never really happened, and in 1701, the South Island was invaded. In much the same way that they had moved in the initial coup two years earlier, the Oswinians were able to break into the Grapeseed parliament, this time being careful to appear much less brutish and arresting members of the government (although they were all later killed in a more private location at a later date).

Oswinian Control and International Intervention (1701–1705)

Following the establishment of Oswinian control, the DBI government set up a government of exile, that was set up in Ergo Sum in Lac Glacei, albeit not affiliated with the Lac Glacei government itself. The Oswinians began establishing control and the South Island and incorporated their brutal techniques on those suspected of collaborating with the old government. The government in exile still managed to conduct the international business of the DBI government, however on the grounds things were ruled by the Oswinians. They cancelled the Apollonian Express ferry operations to Ergo Sum, and instead subjugated their citizens under an increasingly paranoid dictatorship, led personally by Oswin Fasthey.

Fasthey ordered all companies to be placed under his personal direction, often with the responsibility of running which delegated out to a friend that Oswin viewed as trustworthy, allowing himself to become very wealthy. In addition, Fasthey saw an opportunity by exporting wine to the instable regions of the Hexarchy, before selling them on to the international market as if they were made there, effectively circumventing any possible international sanctions to ensure a continued revenue stream.

The four years that followed saw a dark rule over the Hexarchy, with political prisoners often subject to brutal beatings and torture, and saw the Dark Berry Islands turn into a police state. Whilst some resistance fighters remained, they often camped out in the uninhabited interiors of the islands, and engaged in guerrilla conflict with the Oswinians, who easily had more fire power.

However, despite initial fears, there was no international outcry. Whilst Lac Glacei and Hurmu were unhappy with the emergence of Oswinian hegemony on the islands, neither were in a position to do much about it. The Arboric Civil War and the Barikalus–Hurmu war saw Hurmu otherwise occupied, whilst Lac Glacei's internal democratic process was holding up any potential chance of intervention in the Dark Berry Islands, especially as their government was only willing to assist the federal government, rather than any particular rebel group.

Oswin's rule over the islands was a bleak chapter for the country. Oswin ruled with an iron fist, acting as a dictator without care for the rule of law and saw the islands converted into a dystopian nightmare. He let his friends rule varying bits of the country to how they saw fit, resulting in a lot of inevitable corruption and abuse. In one village, the village chief was awarded to a friend of Oswin who used his powers to burst into houses and sexually assault, or even rape, women that he found attractive, and used his soldiers to execute anyone who tried to intervene or refuse. Many people lost their livelihoods, as Oswin implemented a policy of redistribution, which often just saw people becoming paid the bare minimum to allow for Oswin and his associates to reap the excess and the profits, and using the threat of violence to stop any potential protestations. Under Oswin, beatings, rape and killings replaced the criminal justice system, with their even being reports in some areas that the Oswinians engaged in these behaviours for fun. In some villages, military units engaged in "death lotteries", gathering random people into a small confined space where they couldn't move, blindfolding a cadet, and forcing him to open fire for a period of 15 seconds randomly.

This random and lawless state, in which a few profited from the incredible suffering of the vast majority, drew a dream amongst many in the Dark Barry Islands for an escape. However, the government-in-exile in Ergo Sum was not effective. Comprised of mostly old men, they were seen as bureaucratic and faceless, and failed to inspire anyone to fight for their cause. Although they had the backing of most in the islands for being against the Oswinian regime, they were so stuck in their ways they failed to organise any effective or dynamic counter-attack against the Oswinians, and their plan of actions was largely to play out a fantasy in Ergo Sum that they were somehow still in charge of the islands, without ever actually bothering to try and organise any meaningful action to combat Oswin or his cronies. As such, many in the Dark Berry Islands either fled, or for the majority who could not afford to leave, resigned themselves to living in a hellish nightmare.

The Return of Sofia (1704–1705)

Sofia Fasthey, the younger sister of Oswin, became the leader of the resistance against her brother following her release from prison in 1704.

In the village of Peaks-of-the-Gods, Sofia Fasthey, the sister of Oswin, whom he had abused when he was younger, Now 26, she had remained largely isolated and cut-off from the rest of society, but as her brother's reign of terror swept through the islands, she became somewhat romanticised by many across the Dark Berry Islands as a figure of hope and stoic resilience. Despite initial resistance, Sofia agreed to try and help the movement against her brother, initially sending him letters beginning in 1703 to try and convince him to cool down his rule and allow for democratic elections, however he refused, and in 1704, she was arrested and placed in a cell in Mountainview Bay. During her three month stay in prison, she was repeatedly tortured and raped by guards.

Fasthey (chair)
Giannoulis (deputy-chair)
The Council of Women was constructed to provide a fresh and dynamic new leadership to the anti-Oswinian cause, unifying the efforts of the the Government-in-exile and the Sofian cause, to provide a single political, military and diplomatic leadership that would fight the war and eventually, rule the country and transition it back to peace post war. Led by Sofia Fasthey and consisting of her key political allies, the council was noteworthy for being entirely comprised of women in their mid-20s.

Following her release from prison, Sofia was able to commandeer a boat out of the Dark Berry Islands, and sailed to Keltia with a group of four other women, all of whom she had met in prison and had been sentenced on questionable political grounds. Sofia, alongside Elizabeth Georgina Giannoulis, Alexis Jakes, Florence Townley and Ember Whitethorne travelled on an old fishing vessel to Karnak in the Hexarchy, where they were able to contact the government in exile and arrange transport onto Lac Glacei. When the women arrived in Ergo Sum, however, they found an ineffective government, that was lacking hope and had all but resigned to losing the war.

But these women had not given up their hope. They picketed the government for change, and in the first month of 1705, when the government in exile decided to hold fresh elections, Sofia ran for office, with her new part The Sofian List, of which the other four women were all members of. Sofia campaigned amongst the eligible electorate, the DBI diaspore in Lac Glacei and Hurmu, as well as special polls conducted by Hurmudan peacekeepers in Grapeseed. And of the five positions (President and four councillors), all five women were elected with significant margins.

Now, in the eyes of the world, Sofia was the legitimate ruler of the Dark Berry Islands.

One of the first actions taken by Sofia was to re-construct the nation's political system, which had long been a gripe of the younger population of the Dark Berry Islands. She decided to reform the council into two, an executive made up of her and her fellow elected Sofian Listers, whom were formally re-constituted as the Council of Women, and collectively given presidential powers in order to provide a direct, democratic and effective leadership of the islands, as well as lower parliament, which would be introduced following the conclusion of the war, when free and fair elections could take place.

The Council of Women was also noteworthy for being comprised entirely of young women, all of whom were in their early-to-mid twenties, contrasting heavily with the previous government, which had been criticised for being too elderly and out of touch, whilst also contrasting heavily with the Oswinians, who were trying to build up Oswin as a paternal figure and implement a "natural order" based on patriarchal social system. This dual contrasting dynamic not only served to confirm a real departure from the established political order in the Dark Berry Islands, but it also presented many islanders with a real and palpable alternative to the Oswinians that was actually willing to stand up to Oswin and the authoritarian values espoused by him and his supporters.

News of this election had reached Oswin, who's disdain for his younger sister had grown. He publicly labelled her a traitor, and barred her from stepping back onto the islands. He now knew his sister, who retained much popularity on the islands themselves, would pose a major risk to his rule of the islands, and feared that she saught revenge for the way that he had treated her in the past. As such, he mobilised his supporters to defend their lands, knowing that a storm was coming.

International Intervention (1705–1707)

Sofia's first step as the leader of the DBI was to mobilise an international force to assist in the defence of the Dark Berry Islands. She travelled first to Vesüha to meet with senior Hurmudan official to try and secure a military intervention and build up foreign trust. In her meetings, she expressed a desire for a long term peace in the Dark Berry Islands, and that following the successful re-introduction of government rule, that the DBI would work towards increased economic integration with its neighbours. After that, she visited both Lac Glacei and the Hexarchy to try and gain assistance from those respective governments too.

Sofia's trips ultimately proved successful. Lac Glacei offered conditional support for the re-taking of the islands whilst the Hurmu Peace Corps dispatched a limited expeditionary force to conduct a reconnaissance of Grapeseed, and to retake it for the Federal Government if the local circumstances, as assessed by the force commander, were deemed to be favourable. The Hurmudan Expeditionary Force comprised of the following assets:

  • 23rd Fleet Landing Regiment (x1,200 marines)
  • 30th Offshore Patrol Regiment (x3 Napoleon-class cutters, delivering the landing force)
  • x5 squadron strength detachments of peacekeepers from the signals, supply, engineers, medical services, and maintenance specialisms (x600 personnel).

These Hurmudan weapons were also accompanied by expertise from the Hurmu Peace Corps, who offered to train Dark Berry Islander volunteers in an attempt to build up a fighting force.

Battle of Grapeseed

On 18.V.1705, in the early hours of the morning, the Dark Berry Island forces, accompanied by the Hurmu Peace Corps force and some infantry from Lac Glacei, launched a naval blockade of the South Island. Two infantry units were sent to land south of the village of Besham, and the other to an unnamed spot halfway between Grapeseed and Lithlingham to attempt to block the roads leading into the city. Due to the early hour, the Oswinian forces were not yet in position, and the Sofians were quickly able to cut off key supply lines into the city of Grapeseed. Once these supply lines were cut, more infantry landed, both at the original landing points, but this time also in the villages of Ascott and Merryvale, with the Sofian forces quickly able to take control of those villages, as they were welcomed by the locals and neither village had a resident Oswinian official. From here, the forces were able to start building up tanks and armoured vehicles. The naval blockade was hit at by fire at sunrise from the city of Grapeseed, but with Oswinian forces suddenly finding themselves cut off, the Sofian forces began attacking the city from the north and the east. Oswinians first attempted to avoid firing within the city by launching rockets at the advancing enemy, but, as most of the forces were located in Mountainview Bay, after Oswin had predicted that city would be attacked first, those rockets proved ineffective, and given the lack of range of the Mountainview Bay-based rockets, the Oswinians were forced to move their troops stationed in the city into combat, opening fire on the Sofian forces on the outskirts of the city.

What the Oswinians were able to do quickly was garner a quick aerial bombardment. They targeted bombs over the northern suburbs of the city, resulting in both Sofian and civilian casualties.

One thing that the Oswinians were not capable of predicting though was the almost immediate fall of civilian morale. The residents of Grapeseed had been much resistant to the Oswinian rule and immediately following the siege of the city, many resident joined the side of the Sofians. Offering shelter to the soldiers and allowing them to sneak through the city under the cover of civilians allowed the Sofians to make quick gains throughout the city, and commandeer many tanks and military hardware, as they could surround their enemy without them even noticing before it was too late. Whilst many Oswinians did not let up their fight, within a week the city fell, and the Sofians were able to move the provisional government in exile back to Grapeseed.

Following the fall of the city, Grapeseed's airfields were handed over for the use of the Hurmu Peace Corps, who deployed a cohort-strength (360-men) volunteer contingent, drawn from the 119th and 128th Aviation Base Regiments, to restore the runways to full operational capability. The assets being flown from the airfields after their capture, being 16x T-5/A-5 Tejón de Miel, 4x F-9 Ashavan II, 2x maritime patrol aircraft, and a single light transport aircraft, indicated that the air policing mission of the HPC in the DBI had been subcontracted to the ESB Aviation Group.

In spite of Hurmu having to focus the bulk of its aviation assets against the growing concurrent Vanic insurgency on Lyrica, the modest deployed forces was still able to institute a no fly area over the South Island. Whilst the Oswinians only had the most limited aerial force anyway, this no fly zone effectively saw them lose control of the entire South Island, with Hurmudan, Lac Glacei and Sofian forces easily able to take control of the rest of the island, as Oswinian forces retreated to the North Island.

Following the liberation of Grapeseed, the 12th Port and Maritime Regiment of the HPC deployed a volunteer contingent to oversee the repair of the port and the delivery of weapons, munitions, and other supplies including food, oil, and lubricants, to support the Federal forces.

Assault on North Island

Sofian soldiers during the assault on the village of Essingham.

Following the liberation of the South Island, the Dark Berry Islands took their chance to muster up more of their forces. They also began a campaign of distributing subversive literature on the North Island to try and encourage those still remaining on North Island to take up the Sofian cause. However, the Oswinians cracked down hard, often going to great lengths to find and destroy such literature, and often interrogating those who found it. They also stepped up their campaign against anti-Oswinians, throwing them into prison and torturing anyone who they felt sympathised with the Sofian cause. Some Sofian sympathisers fled to the South Island, and in the final month of 1705, Hurmu extended their no fly zone to include the North Island.

In early 1706, the assault of North Island began. Sofian forces, who had recruited heavily following their conquest of South Island, began their invasion from the South, whilst Hurmudan and Lac Glacei naval forces began to circle the island to prevent any re-supplies reaching North Island. Whilst the Oswinians held a base on mainland Keltia, that was also starting to reach meltdown. Some terrorists who were operating in West Karnak had begun to infiltrate the Oswinian bases there in order to fight their own battles against the Hexarchy, and as such there was an increasing fear amongst the Oswinians that the Hexarchy, who were already helping out the Sofians with non-lethal aid, might intervene and try and seize the land from them.

Landing attempts took place in those initial months in Harbourvale and Dots-on-the-Channel. Both landing sites were met with heavy resistance from the Oswinian forces, who were able to shell approaching landing vessels, and were able to force retreats from the few beach assaults that did take place. However, despite these initial failures, it increasingly became obvious to the Sofians that the Oswinians were running low on both supplies and ammunition. On 12.IV.1706, a decoy invasion by Sofian forces was launched on the village of Magenta, located on the eastern shore of North Island. This decoy invasion contained a sizeable number of Sofian forces, and was assisted by Hurmudan airstrikes on military targets in the area. This prolonged invasion managed to secure coastal areas close to Magenta, and forced the Oswinians to relocate their heavier ammunition away from the south of the island towards the east coast. In doing so, they left the southern villages open to easy attack, and on 16.IV.1706, Sofian, Hurmudan and Lac Glacei forces begun a full scale invasion from the south of the island, taking the villages of Harbourvale, Dots-on-the-Channel and Wrestley within that very day, and securing the roads between them and to the village of Ascophosynus Gardens within two days. The southern and south-western coasts of North Island were easily secured within a week, all whilst the attack on Magenta was kept up.

Not only had the Oswinians lost control over vast swathes of the southern portion of the island, but they had also suffered heavy losses in Magenta, The Sofians were welcomed like heroes in the southern villages, and were able to recruit massively from these areas. In addition, several Oswinian soldiers defected, surrendering their weapons and intelligence to the Sofian cause.

Despite the heavy losses in the south, Oswin refused to concede the south of the island. He knew that the villages of Coxley and Coxley Bay, which had been used throughout the civil war as ports to connect up to the supply base in the Free Keltian Republic, and were home to the Coxley Crew, the group of Oswinian loyalists who had previously helped ferry Oswin back and forth between the Dark Berry Islands and Keltia in days gone by before the Oswinian takeover of the islands.

With the Oswinians bedded into Coxley, it was decided that the best bet of attack for the Sofians would be to sever the supply line between Coxley and Mountainview Bay, and as such, they tasked themselves with securing the roads between the two and linking up Magenta with the gains they had made in the south of the island. As such, a batallion of troops marched northwards from Magenta to secure the villages of Hillsbank and Hinley, starting on 5.V.1706, with these two villages and the roads linking them secured within 10 days of intense fighting. Meanwhile, forces from the island's south headed down the road to secure the Forgotten Hamlet, before an attack was made on Lowiston, which was secured by the end of the month. From here, troops from the south and forces that had invaded Magenta met up, and launched an assault on the villages of Essingham and Norton. Here they finally encountered heavy resistance, especially on the roads leading into the village, as the Oswinians tried to hold on to a mountain bypass that they could use to supply Coxley, but intense guerrilla fighting forced them to retreat into Coxley, once again aided by targeted Hurmudan air strikes.

Battle of Coxley and the intervention of the Hexarchy

A map showing the paths of attack for Hurmudan, Sofian and Hexarchy forces during the Battle of Coxley.

On 2.VII.1706, Hurmudan and Dark Berrian air forces began aerial bombardment against Oswinian military targets close to Coxley. With Sofian forces camped outside the villages, Hurmudan naval forces once again a beach assault to try and capture the villages with a three-pronged attack. However, unlike previous villages, where a sizeable pro-Sofian populace helped drive out the Oswinians, in both Coxley and Coxley Bay, the majority of people were decidedly pro-Oswinians, and as such the Oswinian forces were much more resilient and willing to fight than they had been in defending some of the other villages. Furthermore, those based in Mountainview Bay had managed to secure some fighter jets from militia groups fighting in the Hexarchy, and as such were now able to combat the Sofian and Hurmudan forces in the air. In response to the attacks on targets in Coxley, the Oswinians began a bombing campaign of the recently captured villages of Essingham and Norton, as well as bombing the roads leading north out of Hinley and Hillsbank.

Whilst the Sofians and their international allies had always been careful to try and minimise civilian casualties, the indiscriminate nature of the Oswinian bombings really shocked many across the Dark Berry Islands. Whilst they had been known for their reign of terror, even Oswin's most ardent supporters were now starting to question his suitability to govern, and it was increasingly speculated by many across the islands that he was losing his mind. On 12.VII.1706, Sofia made a public plea with her brother to stop the bombings, calling for him to come round the negotiating table, and to try and rebuild their country and their relationship together. However, Oswin issued no reply, and the bombs continued to fall upon the North Island.

Further trouble was seemingly brewing as a result of Oswin's contacts in Keltia. The Oswinians there had began to ally themselves with Vanic terrorist groups in West Karnak, and had caught the attention of the government of the Hexarchy, who were fighting these groups in order to try and establish some level of control over that area. The Hexarchy, who the previous year had launched Operation Enduring Resolve against these groups, and whom had already encountered trouble with rogue members of the DBI Youth in West Karnak, had already established a buffer zone with the Free Keltian Republic's eastern border as a way of preventing any possible spill over from the Dark Berry Island's civil war onto their territory. However, with the Oswinians now beginning to ally themselves with these Vanic groups in West Karnak, suddenly the Hexarchy had become much more interested in becoming involved.

On 22.VII.1706, Sofia Fasthey managed to gain support of Karnak and the Hexarchy in a meeting with Praetor Gilgamesh II and Karnak Pschent Sozer V in Abyd'os. Karnak agreed to help fight the Oswinians in Keltia and the Hexarchy to engage militarily in capturing Coxley and Mountainview Bay, in exchange for Dark Berrian support in West Karnak and the gifting of the territory of the Free Keltian Republic to the Hexarchy, with the three leaders signing an unofficial memoriam of understanding as a way to solidify their arrangements.

Immediately, the Hexarchy's involvement brought about significant change. Forces from Karnak invaded the Free Keltian Republic, and immediately, the supply chains that had been servicing the Oswinians in the Dark Berry Islands became unusable. Hexarchy naval forces were able to blockade the region, and began to shell the area, destroying much of the weapons, vehicles and ammunition that the Oswinians had managed to salvage from West Karnak and the green of Keltia. Furthermore, the alliance with the Vanic insurgents had brought the ire of the the Hurmudans even more, given their ongoing military engagement against Vanic insurgents in Lyrica, and as such they doubled down on their commitment to assist fighting against the Oswinians in the Dark Berry Islands, knowing that Oswinian control of the islands could lead to the Vanic insurgents gaining a new base close to Hurmu from which they could use as a training base.

In the early hours of 1.VIII.1706, forces from the Hexarchy landed in a two pronged formation in Coxley and Coxley Bay. With the Sofian and Hurmudan forces still approaching from the north-west, defeat was looking increasingly immanent for Coxley. Hexarchy forces established quick control of the bay on which both villages lay on, and were able to sever supply lines with the Keltian mainland. Then, the Hexarchy staged beach landings, whilst bombing naval bases in the area, effectively limiting the Oswinian response in the area to being an entirely terrestrial one. It was eventually agreed in secret that the Sofian and Hurmudan forces would attack Coxley Bay, whilst the Hexarchy would attack Coxley. The two prong attack saw control quickly estalished by Hexarchy forces over the village of Coxley, but Coxley Bay proved much harder to take control of. On 4.VIII.1706, forces that had invaded Coxley marched on Coxley Bay, effectively giving Sofian forces, two terrestrial prongs of attack on the village, in addition to the naval force from the Hexarchy and air support. The battle for Coxley Bay was intense, with much of the Coxley Crew group engaging in street fights with the invading forces and also setting up traps in abandoned buildings, but whilst fighting lasted a few days, they just lacked the manpower necessary, and the Coxley Crew formally surrendered on 9.VIII.1706, with their leaders arrested and sent to Grapeseed to await trial.

March on the Capital

Following the capture of Coxley, Sofian and Hurmudan forces regrouped, with several Sofian officials remaining in the villages to ensure a smooth transition to Sofian rule. However, most of the forces moved up the roads to the front villages of Hillsbank and Hinley. The Sofian's first goal was to capture the village of Aversenley, which remained the only village outside of the capital in which the Sofians would face significant resistance. The Oswinians had moved their weapons out of the north-east of the island towards the capital, which had allowed the Sofian, Lac Glacei and Hexarchy forces in Magenta to march north unopposed into the villages in that area. However, it seemed as if the Oswinians were going to attempt to hold down the capital in their attempt to survive.

This plan of action though was not based on reality though. Whilst Hurmudan naval forces had left to support that country's mission in Lyrica, the Hexarchy's navy had largely replaced them and had stepped up patrols of the coast of the country, particularly around Mountainview Bay, leaving the Oswinian forces cut off from their supply bases. Furthermore, the Oswinian's outpost in Keltia was now under attack from Karnak based forces of the Hexarchy, who were invading the territory in a counter-terrorism operation to shut down reported Vanic terrorist training camps in the area.

With Hurmudan forces flanking the north-east of the island and entering into villages unopposed, Sofian forces launched on Aversenley. Oswinians this time used civilians as human shields, preventing the Sofians from firing. However, these scenes themselves led to the locals losing faith in the Oswinian rule, and many began to engage themselves with the Oswinian forces. In just four days of fighting, the Sofians had managed to circle the village and cut off supply lines, before eventually the local Oswinian leader surrendered. This local surrender effectively meant that the Oswinians now only retained rule over the capital, Mountainview Bay.

Whilst marching en route to the capital, Sofia stopped off in Peaks-of-the-Gods, the village of her birth, and the village in which her home, where she had been imprisoned in and abused by Oswin, She slept alone in tthe house, whilst soldiers kept guard, but also used this opportunity to catch up with many in the village that she knew. They were happy to see her back, and they celebrated her return as if it were the return of Christ. Infront of her old school house. On 10.IX.1706, Sofia gave a rousing televised speech, in which she appealed directly to her brother;

"My dearest brother. Over the past seven years, you have ruled these lands. You have inflicted pain and misery on our neighbours. To many who have not known you, they will reflect on you as a despot and a tyrant. But I know who you really are. Although you have hurt me more than anyone, I know, and I remain steadfast in the belief that, you possess within you the light of a noble man, and your sins can be forgiven. I appreciate that to many of our fellow countrymen and women that you can never be forgiven, however I want to offer you one last chance, if not to rebuild the country, but to rebuild our relationship. We are siblings, eternal friends through thick and thin, and I know that you have it in you to be a good man. One cannot always choose the path on which he walks, but one can always choose between the good and wicked ways. Let's end this war, I challenge you".

Despite Sofia's plea, she received no response from Oswin. Instead, the Oswinian forces continued to prepare to repel the now inevitable Sofian assault on Mountainview Bay, and to hold onto what left of his empire.

Preparation for the final battle

On 12.IX.1706, the Sofian forces reached the outer reaches of the city of Mountainview Bay. With still no repsonse from Oswin, the Council of Women had given the formal instruction to the military officers to commence the operation to retake the city, and force the Oswinians into an unconditional surrender. Firstly, though, it was decided by the Sofians to secure the villages on the northeastern side of the island, and thus a force was dispatched to take those cities. However, due to the withdrawal of Oswinian forces from those settlements, rather than doing any actual fighting, these soldiers just found themselves able to walk into these villages without any effort, and were warmly embraced by the locals, who were happy to see the back of the despotic Oswinian dictatorship.

By 20.IX.1706, all the villages up to Northern Cove had become secure, with only Eastern Bay left, a village which effectively served as a suburb of Mountainview Bay. As such, this time had allowed the Sofian forces, along with their international partners to regroup. However, the same could also be said for the Oswinians. They had managed to get several Vanic aligned terrorists to travel from Karnak and other parts of Keltia and Lyrica to assist their cause, who themselves were eager to assert themselves against the Hurmudans and the Hexarchy, whom they saw as imperialists who were eager to erase all traces of Vanic culture. However, given the intense global dislike of the Vanics and the crimes that the Vanics had committed against their own people. there was no doubt in the minds of the Dark Berrians and of Sofia Fasthey that these people should be sparred. And for many on the islands and around Micras, it was the final straw for the leadership of the Oswinians, who had turned to international isolation following their takeover of the islands.

These Vanic insurgents however did prove to be both eager and skilled fighters. They took hostage of civilian buildings and were able to camouflage into the domestic arrangements of their captives, essentially blinding the Sofians ability to tell apart enemy from civilian. However, many of these Vanic insurgents became eager to inflict their disturbed and warped so-called cultural practises onto the residents of Mountainview Bay. It was widely reported that during the ninth and tenth months of 1706, many children and women in Mountainview Bay were raped or otherwise forced to participate in gross sexual "festivals" by Vanic insurgents, whilst many Oswinian fighters provided security for and in many cases forced locals to participate in these festivals.

Due to these revelations, the Sofian forces were able to recruit additional foreign mercenaries who were eager to fight and defeat the Vanics. Many of these people flew into the now restored Grapeseed Airport and were ferried across to North Island and convoyed up to the front lines to receive basic training before the final push.

Battle of Mountainview Bay

On the morning of 4.X.1706, Sofian forces entered the suburbs of Mountainview Bay. Encountering fierce resistance from the Oswinian authorities, who launched rocket strikes on Sofian training bases in North Island, the Sofians knew they were in for a fight, but fortunately, their allies in Hurmu and the Hexarchy were willing to help. The Hurmu Peace Corps began launching aerial attacks, bombing key Oswinian targets in the cities, whilst the Hexarchy launched a naval offensive on the port. The port was one of the key targets for the Sofians, as it was the Oswinian's lifeline in restocking and resupplying, and by destroying it, they knew that they could cut off trade with the Vanic mercenaries and client states in Keltia. With the war raging, some Sofian supporters in Mountainview Bay set fire to key Oswinian assets in the city, causing heavy smoke to become visible above the city's skyline.

However, despite the resilience of the Oswinian forces, who were able to hold the Sofian advance at arms length, they were ultimately outnumbered by a much superior fighting force. Both the Hexarchy and Hurmu made landings on beaches in the city and were able to secure surrounding areas. Special forces were able to run into the city and take out key targets, which bolstered the pro-Sofian locals who began themselves to attack Oswinians, turning the city into an anarchic hub of violence. By 21.XII.1706, two and a half months into the battle, the conflict had turned from a military attack on a city to one in which the Oswinians had effectively taken up an urban guerrilla style of combat, hiding themselves in the few secure locations they had left in the city and using these as bases from which to conduct their insurgency.

However, a significant blow was handed to the Oswinians just a few weeks later. On 3.XIII.1706, it was reported by news sources in Lac Glacei that Oswin Fasthey had fled the country. Initially, the Oswinians dismissed this claim as baseless propaganda, however, four days later, it was revealed that Oswin was not only out of the country, but he had left five months earlier, just before the attack on Coxley. It was revealed that he was hiding out in Keltia shortly afterwards by intelligence ascertained by the authorities in the Hexarchy, who concluded he was hiding out in the Free Keltian Republic near West Karnak, and was there assisting the Vanic terrorists in West Karnak. News of this, by the time it filtered into Mountainview Bay, caused a serious breakdown in the Oswinian ranks, many of whom viewed Oswin himself as having given up on the Oswinian cause. Mass defections were reported by the Sofians, as vast swathes of Oswinian controlled areas suddenly surrendered. However, there were those who refused to give up the cause, and on 12.XIII.1706, Oswin gave a speech calling on his forces to continue their struggle, via a video link from Keltia:

"Now is the time to fight hardest. I have been assisting our friends in Karnak, who like ourselves, have faced oppression from an imperialist force seeking to destroy their ways of life and the values for which they stand. We must continue to fight in our struggle against the international order, many of whom secretly idolise us, and must not give in to an evil council who seek to impose terror on our islands".

However, this defiant speech proved to be all talk and no action, as Oswin declined the offer from the Vanic insurgents in Keltia of assistance in returning to Mountainview Bay. Oswin had become enamoured with the idea that, just as he had before, he could rebuild his empire in Keltia and have another crack at control over the Dark Berry Islands. However, now that his Keltian colony had attracted the interest of the Hexarchy, this plan of action was no longer feasible, and as such, many of his contemporaries were beginning to view him as unfit to lead their fight.

Surrender of the Oswinian forces

On the morning of 19.XIII.1706, a man by the name of Alexander Carlow was hailed by the Oswinians as their new leader. Carlow, who recognised the imminent defeat of the Oswinians, and fearing the reprisals that could come along with such, indicated an immediate willingness to broker a ceasefire with the Sofians and negotiate Whilst the Sofians were wary, Sofia herself agreed, and along with the other members of the Council of Women, met with the new leaders of the Oswinians. Carlow suggested that the Oswinians surrender, on the condition that no legal charges would be pursued by the Sofians against any of the Oswinian forces, with the exception of Oswin himself. However, the Sofians declined this offer, saying that they wanted to bring to justice all those involved in war crimes in the islands. Due to the negative political feeling surrounding the Vanic volunteers and their actions in the war, and knowing full well that failure to negotiate an end to the war could result in the execution of high ranking Oswinians, Carlow agreed to an unconditional surrender the following afternoon.

The following day, on 21.XIII.1706, there were mass celebrations across the Islands, as people no longer had to live in fear of the Oswinians, and could now enjoy a life free of violence and war. Arrests shortly began on those involved, with Carlow handing over incriminating documents over many of his fellow Oswinians, before fleeing himself to the Keltian green shortly afterwards.

However, despite the wild celebrations on the Islands, in Keltia, the reaction was markedly different. Oswin claimed that Carlow had usurped him in a coup, and claimed that he remained the only legitimate leader of the Oswinian cause, vowing to return to the Dark Berry Islands to fight the war. He also decreed to establish a new Vanic state, that would cover the Dark Berry Islands, Karnak and Lyrica, acknowledging support of Freyja's Battlers and calling for the death of his sister, who was now tasked with rebuilding the ruins of Mountainview Bay and other settlements in the Islands which had been damaged by the war.

Oswin's final holdout in Keltia

With the Oswinians out of power in the Dark Berry Islands, only a handful of combatants remained, all of whom had now fled to the final outpost in Keltia, where the Free Keltian Republic had begun life years prior. This area was now under attack by the forces of the Hexarchy, who conducted frequent raids in the against Vanic insurgents who were using the land as a base to carry out their operations in Karnak. Furthermore, Oswin's comments in support of Vanicism and Freyja's Battlers not only had came as a surprise to his allies in Karnak, but also to the wider international community, who saw the Battlers as a terrorist organisation and were keen to eradicate all forms of Vanicism on Micras.

With the Hexarchy already closing in, the Dark Berry Islands requested that Hurmu move its remaining Peace Corps to focus on this section of land in Keltia, whilst also establishing diplomatic contact with Nouvelle Alexandrie, attempting to garner support further afield than their already established regional allies in assisting them with defeating the Oswinians.

in the early months of 1707, the Dark Berry Islands invaded this territory, whilst the Hexarchy also began to step up its operations in the area. Terrorist attacks were reported by Hexarchian officials in the territory of West Karnak, however, these attacks proved only to strengthen, rather than weaken, the Hexarchy's involvement. Whilst the forest provided ample cover for the terrorists and Oswinians, their numbers were low and aerial missions by the Hurmu Peace Corps proved effective in identifying the holdouts and weapons storage facilities of the rebels. The Dark Berry Islands and Hexarchy militaries were able to target bomb these areas, killings many of the rebels whom were holding out. Eventually, the Hexarchy launched a ground-based offensive, which saw them rapidly take control of the area. They established the city of Sofia, in conjunction with the DBI authorities and named after Sofia Fasthey herself, as a base from which to conduct raids on the remnants of the territory. By the I.VIII.1707, the Hexarchy had been able to establish full control of the territory, and the terrorists had fled back into West Karnak and the Green, providing the Hexarchy with a new western base from which to carry out missions in West Karnak. In addition, many of the remaining Oswinians surrendered, and the Hexarchy's authorities handed them over to the Dark Berry Islands for trial.

Manhunt for Oswin

Hurmu, Lac Glacei and the Hexarchy all took control of large swathes of the East Keltian green in 1706, and these adjacent territories were widely scoured in the early searches for Oswin.

Unfortunately, in all the fighting, Oswin had managed to flee, and the DBI called out for its international partners to find him. As of mid-1707 the arrival of security contractors had been noted on North Island. Initially involved in securing a site for a prospective future Residency of the Honourable Company in the DBI, these individuals eventually began to offer their services, at their employer's behest, to the authorities with regards to sifting the populace for suspected rebel sympathisers, collaborators, and subversive Oswinian activist cells. As the manhunt for Oswin escalated, the data returns of a panopticon sensor suite operated by specialists of ESB Security Directorate, filtered through a discretely housed and necessarily secluded information analyst, were made available to the Federal authorities.

Initially, fears that he had fleed by boat were common place, though allied control of the waters surrounding the Dark Berry Islands in the Strait of Pearls made this hypothesis unlikely, and increasingly the suspicion that Oswin had escaped into the Keltian green started to dominate the investigation. In the years of the international intervention, the conflict had served to motivate Hurmu, Lac Glacei and the Hexarchy all to expand their territories in Western Keltia, providing a continual seaboard free from the lawlessness of the green, from which it would prove more difficult to escape. Initial suspicions were that he had escaped to West Karnak, however the Lac Glaceian territory of Rousilion and the Hurmudan territory of Amaland were both thoroughly searched, with neither locality able to find even the tiniest evidence that Oswin had ever even been there.

Oswin's escape to Phinbella and Lostisland

Concerns were also raised that Oswin could have escaped to Tanah Tōnán'hyôrï, a dependent territory of Phinbella which until now had largely escaped the interests of the Dark Berrian authorities. As Phinbella had stayed out of the allied intervention in the war, and was also politically unaligned with its neighbouring countries, there were fears that Fasthey could have used the territory as a landing stage to escape the region entirely. Rumours of sightings of Oswin in the city of Longhïa'pyōn Tawao did circle around, but they were not picked up on by the authorities. Whiilst the Phinbellan authorities were aware of Oswin Fasthey, he was largely unknown by ordinary Phinbellans and as such was able to blend in to the background in a heavily multicultural area. After photographs were published on 9.VI.1707 showing Fasthey at a market in the city, the government of the Dark Berry Islands sent a request to their Phinbellan counterparts, however due to the autonomous nature of Tanah Tōnán'hyôrï, they were unable to react quickly enough, giving Oswin the chance to escape.

Oswin Fasthey made his escape via a network of supporters, who employed guides to ensure his safe passage to Tanah Tōnán'hyôrï, from which he could flee.

Oswin took his chance by disguising himself and obtaining a fraudulent Phinbellan passport under the name of "Quentin van Blauke", listing himself as a Phinbellan Afrikaaner, he was able to board a flight unnoticed at Phinean Tōnán'hyôrï International Airport to Springwind Islands on 12.VI.1707, before boarding another flight to the Phinbellan capital of Phinéas Padolski. The two domestic flights had managed to avoid his passport being looked at by the authorities, but he survived a close call at Victór Valèntich Flynn International Airport, when he was called for questioning by Phinbellan due to concerns that he had concealed drugs in his bags. Whilst Oswin's fake identity had now been ascertained by the authorities back in Tanah Tōnán'hyôrï and logged into the Phinbellan police's systems, the police at the airport failed to check the name on his passport in their records, preventing them from discovering who he really was, and when the suspected drugs were proved to be condiments that Oswin had packed with him, he was released without charge by the Phinbellan authorities.

Once in Phinéas Padolski, Oswin met up with a contact by the name of Roman Silchenko, a Lostislandic businessman, who had profited from importing wine into Lostisland from the Dark Berry Islands during Oswin's rule. He informed Oswin of the international manhunt for him, and of the pact that the Sofians, their international allies and the Phinbellans knew he was in Tanah Tōnán'hyôrï and was planning to travel. Oswin now knew that he had to escape Phinbella before the authorities could pick him up, and agreed to travel with Silchenko to Lostisland. To avoid suspicion from the Phinbellan authorities, Silchenko ordered a private driver to drop Oswin off by a coastal bay, free from the wandering eyes of the Phinbellan navy. There, Oswin bought a kayak, and paddled his way about a mile into the ocean, where he was collected by Silchenko's yacht, with Silchenko taking Oswin to Montediszamble in Lostisland.

Concerns about how Oswin had managed to escape to Phinbella in the first place were now confusing authorities around the Strait of Pearls. For Oswin to have just shown up in Tanah Tōnán'hyôrï caused significant concern, as it meant that either he had been able to have secured a passage through the green via sympathetic people smugglers, that potentially could harbour either pro-Vanic or anti-international order terrorists, whilst a route through Amaland would prove to be of a significant domestic concern to the Hurmudan authorities. Eventually, after a tip off to the authorities, it was discovered that some old contacts of Oswin's in Karnak had paid off several middle-aged paupers to work as guides for Oswin to get him across West Karnak, the Green, and a section of Amaland way inland.

By this point Oswin had reached Montediszamble, though many were trying to track him in the Phinbellan Skerries, with authorities in both Niuē i Taman Lawang and the Extraterritorial Authority still trying to find him. Whilst there were concerns again that he could have vanished into the ocean, the strong international shipping presence and maritime controls in the region rendered a lengthy escape into the oceans unlikely, especially given that in both directions would offer only an escape to waters infested with Bassarid piracy, who themselves were not eager to support a man who had previously denounced the Stripping Path, whilst travel eastwards would have sent him towards Nijima and Valencia, both regions controlled by Raspur Pact states, who through the Honorable company's involvement with the Sofian regime now had strong motivations to apprehend Oswin. As such, it was assumed that either he would have stayed on the island, or travelled westwards towards Lostisland. Given the Phinbellan investigations, the Dark Berrian government and its international partners began to try and contact the Lostislandic authorities, asking them for assistance in capturing Oswin and for co-ordinating on this issue.

Negotiations with Lostisland

Oswin Fasthey stayed aboard the Pearl of the Skerries, the private yacht of Lostisland businessman Roman Silchenko until his arrest, pictued here docked in the marina near the city of Montediszamble.

However, Lostisland is one of Micras' isolationist states. Having existed as an independent state for well over a century, in that time it had only established diplomatic relations with Senya, and crucially lacked diplomatic relations with the Dark Berry Islands or any of their international partners. It was especially difficult given that they could not prove that Oswin was there, and Lostisland was eager to avoid taking sides in what it viewed to be a primarily domestic issue. On 21.VI.1706, the Senyan ambassadors to Lostisland and the Phineonesian Confederation met with officials from the Dark Berry Islands, Hurmu, the Hexarchy and Phinbella in Phinéas Padolski, in order to grant Senya the authority to request an arrest warrant for Oswin Fasthey. The Senyan officials agreed to send Lostisland a request for an arrest warrant for Oswin Fasthey, and agreed that they would deport him to the Dark Berry Islands for trial should he be handed over.

The following day, Senyan authorities handed Lostisland a request warrant for Oswin Fasthey through the Senyan embassy in Montediszamble, which was received and granted by the Lostislandic authorities the same day. Whilst the denied a request to deport him to the Dark Berry Islands directly, due to their lack of relations, they agreed that he would be deported to Senya should they find him. However, and rather disappointedly for the international community, the Lostislandic authorities refused to conduct a nationwide search for Fasthey, noting that there was no evidence that he was in Lostisland, though agreed to "keep a look out for him" should he arrive on their shores.

In the midst of all this, Fasthey was now living his life as a stowaway on Silchenko's yacht, which was moored in a private marina close to Montediszamble. This particular marina was renowned for the relative infrequent checks by the authorities, and was known by criminals as a place to hide contraband items, especially as the police, given the marina's private status, could not burst into the marina unannounced, giving criminals a short period of time to hide any contraband, with his position in the yacht also made him untraceable from aerial or satellite photography. During this time, Fasthey became friends with some of Silchenko's associates, whom he introduced Oswin to as "Clive Hammondsmith", an investment banker from Mercury, to keep the wool over the eyes of the locals.

Fasthey also gained a new disguise, fearing his diguise that he used to get into Phinbella might by now have been uncovered. Furthermore, Oswin went bald, agreed to get a sleeve tattoo on his right arm and got Silchenko to give him a scar with a sword above his right eye in order to give him an even more drastic appearance change.

But Oswin's fears of being detected were now starting to come to fruition. By 2.VII.1707, the police investigation in Phinbella had wielded results. CCTV footage of Oswin meeting Silchenko in Phinéas Padolski had been uncovered, and although he was in disguise, his voice had been recorded by a fellow passenger on one of his flights, who came forwards to the police after seeing an appeal for information in a Phinbellan newspaper. Now, they had a fake face to find, and the Phinbellan authorities were quick to trace Silchenko, who the week earlier had attended a conference surrounding marketing at the upcoming EMU Championships football tournament in Phinbella, as he had been eager to get his company to sponsor the event. As Silchenko lived a playboy lifestyle, his yacht was a common sight in the Skerry Isles, and it was known that it had recently returned to the marina in Lostisland. As a result, the Phinbellan police forwarded their evidence to the Lostislandic police, who agreed to raid the marina.

Arrest of Oswin

In the early hours of 3.VII.1707, police in Montediszamble contacted the marina and stated their intention to search for drugs. As this was a semi-regular occurrence, Silchenko was not worried, believing that the authorities were not searching for Oswin, however Oswin himself was worried. However, following the call, it was not possible for the yacht to leave the marina, and instead, Fasthey hid under a bed in the crew quarters of the yacht. Silchenko, whom himself had a history of drug trafficking, personally greeted police officers by his yacht, as they came to investigate his yacht. After telling them that he had "no drugs, and nothing to hide", the police conducted a brief search of the yacht, masquerading their real intentions and lulling Silchenko into a false sense of security. Even before the officers had finished their search of the ship, Silchenko had joined several of the crew and a few of his friends on the deck for breakfast. However, just before the officers departed, having noting that the ship was free of drugs, more police officers arrived, and the police arrested Silchenko, as well as the rest of the crew and all the others on the deck, for "harbouring Oswin Fasthey".

Whilst Silchenko was quickly led off the yacht and into the back of a police car for questioning, the additional officers conducted a more thorough search of the yacht, and found Fasthey underneath the bed he had been hiding under. He was arrested, along with the remaining people on the yacht, and taken away for questioning.

Whilst initially the Lostislandic authorities did not view him as being Fasthey, of the 21 arrest they had made that day, he was the one they had a hard time tracking down. The rest were all Lostislandic nationals who were all either were reputable in Lostislandic society for the police to have already been aware of, or were registered as working on the yacht by the government's employment records. But Clive Hammondsmith, as they knew him, was proving rather elusive.

After a hard night of interrogations, Hammondsmith was charged with illegal entry, a charge solely given to ensure they did not have to release him, denying him bail, and the Lostislandic authorities contacted Senya, asking for information on this man. Under the Xäiville Convention, Senya requested information from Mercury about Clive Hammondsmith, but the following day the Mercurian officials stated that the only man with that name in Mercury they were aware of was a school teacher from Deacon who that day had been in school working that very day. Whilst questions about his identity grew, the Senyan government requested that the Lostislandic authorities deported him to Senya to conduct a DNA test. However, the authorities denied this, stating that there was little evidence to believe that this man was indeed Oswin Fasthey, given his name and appearance.

It was decided though to be pertinent by the Lostislandic authorities to conduct an additional search of the yacht, which had now been moved to a specialist facility in Montediszamble harbour, where it could not be tampered with, and where repeated searches of the yacht had taken place to gather evidence. However, none of the early searches had yielded success. The breakthrough though did eventually happen on 8.VII.1707, when an officer noticed that the carpet in one of crew rooms had come up slightly, and under it was a secret compartment, big enough only to fit a handful of small and thin items in it. One of the items found in it was a Phinbellan passport. The officer in question immediately called the chief of the investigation, who looked at the passport and noted that the name under it was "Quentin van Blauke", the name now known by the Phinbellan authorities to have been the name on Oswin's plane tickets when he had travelled originally from Longhïa'pyōn Tawao to Phinéas Padolski. With this piece of evidence in place, the Lostislandic authorities granted Senya's request for extradition

Trial of Oswin

On the morning of 9.VII.1707, Oswin boarded a special military plane that had been dispatched specifically to bring him to Senya. The flight to Svorgas-Colney Airport was long and arduous, with Fasthey being watched by 20 security guards, and when the plane landed in Senya, he was immediately placed in a police van and taken to the Northend Maximum Security Prison, where he was kept under 24 hour watch by guards. The Senyan government, whilst eager to hand over Fasthey to the Dark Berry Islands, also needed to ascertain that it was actually him, and so requested a DNA sample from a family member. Two of his three surviving siblings came forward, Cara and Nathaniel, who flew together from Mountainview Bay to Svorgas, via Vesüha to provide samples, after both of whom had disowned him following his treatment of Sofia and his subsequent involvement in politics prior to even the start of the civil war. The pair arrived in Senya on 13.VII.1707, and provided DNA samples at a police station in central Svorgas, whilst also providing interviews to the investigators about Oswin's characteristics and his motivations surrounding the war and his treatment of Sofia. Whilst waiting on the outcome of the DNA samples, both Cara and Nathaniel visited Oswin in prison the day before, where he revealed his identity, before branding them both as traitors and ordering them out of his cell. In truth, the emotion had got to him, and the following morning, the DNA samples came back positive, proving his identity as Oswin Fasthey.

Oswin spent the night in his cell alone crying, realising the inevitability of his fate, going through with his lawyer the process, knowing he would now be deported back to the Dark Berry Islands to await trial, and knowing full well he would likely be executed. But in one moment of clarity, he requested a final opportunity to speak to Cara and Nathaniel. It was agreed that they could travel on the plane back to Mountainview Bay with him, and on 17.VII.1707, the three boarded the flight back, surrounded by guards.

On the flight, Oswin had, for the first time in well over a decade, the chance to actually talk to his siblings. Oswin had begun to realise the impact he had on the family, how his treatment of Sofia had torn them apart, and the last psychological damage he had done to all of them. He had used and abused Sofia for his own satisfaction, and had ruined her life. "No wonder" he wondered "she had led the fight against me. After all, she had suffered from the start. I ruined her life. She had nothing left to lose". Rather than being binded by handcuffs, the three were free to play cards with each other and talk about life. But they knew it would not be possible for Oswin to be welcomed back. As Nathaniel explained to him, "you may be my brother, and you may be remorseful, but for what you did, you are unforgivable".

The plane landed in Mountainview Bay, and a regiment of the Hurmu Peace Corps was on hand to escort Oswin to the prison, after a teary goodbye with Cara and Nathaniel. Whilst settling down in his prison cell, he rejected the chance to be defended by a lawyer, opting instead to represent himself in court, believing that such a court would just be a show trial and that his fate, execution, had already been decided by the powers that be.

During the following days during his stay in prison, Oswin wrote several poems, openly discussing his regret for the atrocities committed against the people of the Dark Berry Island, but still doubling down on his opinion that Sofia was an untrustworthy opportunist and that reforms could have taken place under his command that would have allowed for fairer treatment. Despite hard proof to the contrary, Oswin continued to claim that he was unaware of many of the atrocities that went on during his time as the ruler of the islands, and that a Free Keltian Republic could have prevented the imperialism in Western Keltia shown by Hurmu, Lac Glacei, Phinbella and the Hexarchy. Furthermore, he continued to avow his support of the Vanic terrorists in Keltia and Lyrica, claiming that the Froyalandish and their religious brethren had been oppressed ever since the Auspicious Occasion, and since the collapse of Stormark, that all the powers of the world had been complicit in their extermination and eradication. Oswin's continued support of the Vanic cause continued to lose him any remaining credibility he had, either at home or abroad. By the time of his trial, which began on 22.VII.1707, he was firmly public enemy number one in the Dark Berry Islands.

Jakes' offer

On the first day of the trial, Oswin arrived at the courthouse in Mountainview Bay in a police van, with many people throwing fruit at the van as it passed, and booing him when he was taken out of the van and escorted inside the building. Inside the courthouse, Oswin was read out his charges by Judge Belinda Theurin. Oswin was charged with 6 counts of murder, public disorder, genocide, 17 counts of rape, including 4 involving of child sexual assault, conspiracy, treason, co-operation with terrorist groups; including financial, intelligence and providing arms, breach of the peace and fraud, though Oswin pled not guilty to all charges. He was then given ten days to gather amd provide evidence to the court, as the session was adjourned, in line with standard practise in the islands.

Fasthey returned to his jail cell and spent the night once again in isolation, with the only visit being from the ward officer, who changed the bedsheets on his bed and provided him with his meal. The following day though, he was met with an unexpected visitor, in the form of councillor Alexis Jakes. Jakes, who was serving on the Council of Women, and who was a key political ally of Sofia, was announced simply to Oswin as "Miss Jakes" by the prison staff, but Oswin already knew not only who she was, but also the reason for her visit. The two were sat down across from one another at the interview station, only separated by shatterproof glass. Though Oswin offered a bitter grin at Jakes, who took a while to settle down and draw a few key items out of her purse,

"I'm sure you know who I am", she began.

"Of course I know who you are. You and my sister have been breaking my balls for the past three years, of course I know who you fucking are", Oswin quipped, looking increasingly agitated.

Jakes silently nodded, fiddling with the pages in the small notebook she had infront of her, batting the cover with a pencil that she held in her left hand as she thought of her response.

"She sent me to talk to you to y—"

"WHO?" snapped Oswin.

"You know who".

Oswin paused, the anger bleeding off his face.

"Of course, that foul bitch putting me up again!"

"Sofia is a great wo—"

"Sofia is a swine and a petty dumb wench who couldn't even fathom an intelligent word if a dictionary blew in her face".

Alexis jolted up her chair, startled by Oswin's temper, but quickly composed herself and changed her tone.

"She sent me here today to save you".

Oswin snorted. "Yes of course she did, and then she's going to put me in the gallows in the middle of town and have locals throw urine over me. I know these games".

"No, she means actually stopping the execution. She wants to talk to you".

This time, it was Oswin who found himself startled. He paused for a moment to consider the sitution.

"But why should she? I'm her biggest enemy. She hates me, she has since she was a child, and now after everything, she wants to play nice? I don't believe it".

"She just wants to talk" Jakes laughed. "Maybe this could work as a little family therapy session? At least you won't have to kill anyone to sort out your differences".

"If it wasn't for her, dad would still be alive, and she knows it".

Jakes sighed again. "Look, all I'm saying is that she wants to talk, in person, face-to-face. If you don't want to do that, that's your choice, but the offer's on the table. I'll let you think about it". Jakes stood up, once again filling the array of items that she had put out on the desk back into her purse, before tearing off a page from her notepad and scribbling down a note.

"Here's the contact number if you change your mind".

Sofia and Oswin meet

Over the following few days, Oswin mulled over the offer, often staring at the phone number on the piece of paper that Jakes had given him. Although he knew that he should prepare for his defence, he could not think of anything else. Why did Sofia want to talk? Why now? Was she planning something? Was it all a decoy, and chance to ambush him, or was she being genuine? Oswin was unsure, and the uncertainty began to play on his mind. He began to hallucinate in he jail, refused to eat as his mind turned to every interaction he had ever had with his sister. He would eventually come to pace around his cell, mulling over the offer, before on the 3.VIII.1707, he decided to request a phone call to the number.

The number, as it turned out, went to Sofia's secretary, but once she realised that it was Oswin on the line, she transferred the call immediately to Sofia.

"Hello Oswin. It's been a while". Sofia's voice purred as she spoke over the phone.

"Why did you want me to call?". Although Oswin still deeply resented her, he was confused by the entire predicament. Something seemed off, and he was eager to get to the bottom of it. "Alexis told me you wanted to save me? Why?"

"Oswin, we've been through so much. Not just as a country, but as a family and as siblings too. I owe you one final chance, even if the rest of the world is against you".

"But why? If you side with me you'll become public enemy number one. I'm the one everyone wants dead. Just kill me already. Let me have my peace".

Sofia, paused. "I'll prove it's for real, I'll visit your cell tomorrow evening and we can talk it all through".

Oswin agreed, before hanging up the phone, once again mulling over what he could say. Would they be left alone together? What would happen? That night he had several major mood swings, flying between fits of rage, silent contemplation and manic pacing as he become overcome with anxiety. He had already determined that he would die, but the question was now whether or not Sofia would just be extending the inevitable.

The following evening, Sofia entered the police station, and was escorted with several members of the police to an interview room, affording her much the same security as Alexis Jakes had been afforded when she had visited Oswin in jail. Although Oswin had expected there to be a large entourage looking after his sister, he was suprised to see that she entered the room alone, albeit on the opposite side of the shatter-proof glass.

Domestic aftermath

By as early as 1708 AN there were concerns that a cult of personality was starting to grow up around Sofia Fasthey as she became increasingly regarded as an embodiment of the liberation struggle which had ended the tyrannical rule of her brother.

Following the liberation of Mountainview Bay by the Sofian forces, work was quick to begin on restoring the city and the wider islands. Whilst some areas of the country, particuarly on the South Island, had avoided much in the way of destruction, some cities and villages in the North Island were in much needed assistance of rebuilding. Sofia was keen to seek the assistance of the honorable company to help rebuild the country, especially given her determination to foster more positive relations with Nouvelle Alexandrie and other members of the pact, particularly in the Benacian Union, whose Samholdsøya guarded the northern entry of the Strait of Pearls.

One of the most difficult and imminent tasks facing the new Sofian government was to finance and execute the rebuild of the country, which had suffered significant damage not just to its infrastructure, but also to its economy. Sofia was keen to restored the Apollonian Express ferry and freighter service to Ergo Sum, whilst also looking at potentially expanding ferry routes to other nearby islands. The Dark Berry Islands also became increasingly concerned with the status of naval control of the Strait of Pearls, and saught with its allies to establish a way of protecting and patrolling its waters to keep it free from the rule of pirates and smugglers, many of whom had assisted the Oswinians during the conflict.

Initial progress on reconstruction was slow, and although some disgruntlements by the populace resulted in the occasional protest, Sofia had enough of a unifying spirit surrounding her that many people simply accepted that this would be a lengthy process, rather than something that would be resolved instantly, with the Council of Women lamenting that the destruction of the port was not allowing freighter services to resume, and thus meant that resources from elsewhere were thus difficult to import into the country.

International reaction

  • Lac Glacei Lac Glacei: Lac Glacei, a close trading partner of the DBI, decried the outbreak of civil war within the isles and called for both sides to seek arbitration. The Grand Duchy has stated that it will not recognize the FKR as a legitimate government and that the Federalists in Grapeseed are the only legitimate authority. Nonetheless, the Grand Duke has offered to provide a neutral ground for mediation should both sides choose to seek non-violent remediation. The legislature has also authorized humanitarian relief to be sent to those civilian communities affected by the conflict. Following developments in late 1706 Lac Glacei granted tacit recognition to the Sofian government as the legitimate authority over the DBI. As such it began to direct humanitarian aid to the Council of Women.
  • Hurmu Hurmu: The government of Hurmu, concerned by the destabilising potential of the Oswinian uprising, offered the deployment of a regiment of HPC peacekeepers to support the remnant Federal government of the DBI in Grapeseed. This deployment was moved forward in 1705 AN as the position of the Federal Government collapsed on the southern isle. Following the recapture of Grapeseed, the HPC expanded its mission to include air policing and logistical support for the Federal cause.
  • Hexarchy Hexarchy: The government of The Hexarchy, following a terrorist attack in Amarna (a city in Karnak), vowed to severely punish the offenders and secure the nation's western frontier against belligerent neighbors. Additionally citing regional economic and physical security, the country launched Operation Enduring Resolve in Summer 1705 AN, meant (among other things) to pacify regions along The Hexarchy's borders that otherwise posed a threat to civilians within MCS-recognized territories belonging to the nation. They decisively intervened in the war during 1706 AN when the Oswinians allied with Vanic terrorist cells operating out of West Karnak, committing much of their small navy and considerable land forces to the fight.