Operation Bait Harvest
|Operation Bait Harvest|
|Part of Benacian Reconquest|
Image grab from the gunner's viewfinder of a Snark attempting to engage an enraged Tee-al disturbed from its siesta. The Snark's black box was recovered two miles from the scene of its destruction.
|Shireroth||Tyrannocricetus aliger|| Siyachi-Yehudi Brigands
|Commanders and leaders|
|Daniel Dravot||Pachad ben Mavet|
| Shirekeep Garrison
||486 suspected nesting sites|| Siyacher Militerischer Kraft
Laxija Aҳatkөrija Әrmija - Laqi National Army
Black Rangers (Remnants)
Syzygy Partisans (Remnants)
120 special forces operatives
2,160 naval ratings
3,600 Palatine Troops
8 IMW-3 Snarks
50 Horjin Electronic Warfare Vehicles
560 80mm field guns
1,500 Horjin AFVs
12,760 logistics support vehicles
25 F-8 Shrike
240 A-6 Pundarikam
720 A-10 Kambera
1 aircraft carrier
3 logistic support vessels
|3,890 breeding adults|| 1,170 Black Rangers
2,668 Laqi fighters
6,597 Syzygy Partisans
2,465 draught horses
7,350 cavalry horses
16 Yaldabaoth MBTs
16 modified Horjin AFVs (ex-Minarborian variants)
24 Dandelion medium-range SAM launchers (twin)
24 152mm (pack) howitzers
161 light support vehicles
232 wagons and carts
292 quad bikes
numerous re-purposed rocket launchers (all calibres)
|Casualties and losses|
9 A-6 Pundarikam
|1,209 adults killed, 24 litters destroyed||9,101 confirmed kills:
|914,610 persons enrolled as Loyal Subjects of the Kaiser and settled in the Lywall Protectorate.|
Operation Bait Harvest was the second pacification drive and Tyrannocricetus aliger containment action undertaken in central Benacia by the forces of the Imperial Republic of Shireroth. The previous incursion, Operation Erebus, carried out in the years 1649–1650 AN, had formed a part of the wider Benacian period of turmoil known as the Struggle for the South.
The Imperial Government, under Steward Kyle Kilynn had expected a swift and unopposed occupation of the littoral provinces of the former Minarborian Empire. However in this he, along side his Minister of the Exterior, Hallbjörn Haraldsson were ultimately to be disappointed.
The ferocity of the permanently enraged Tee-als, the persistently lethal flora and fauna of Whisperwood, the tenacity of the straggling bands of partisans, and a certain amount of improvisational diplomatic footwork had necessitated a swift, if not ignominious, withdrawal from the provinces of Poroly, Lywall and &zeter. Only Lachmeren, Litel and Gloomvale fell permanently into the grasp of the Imperial Republic.
The presently reigning Steward, Liv Dravot, remained resolutely opposed to any further expansion of the imperial frontiers, with sufficient difficulties presently attending in the digestion of western Benacia and the partition of Elwynn. However, in order to placate the extremists in the Imperial Government, led by the Viscount Myn, who constantly railed against the continued existence of the Minarborian Gap, the Steward authorised an operation more limited in scope to exterminate the Tee-al menace to Mishalan and Malarboria and to punish certain warlords who had played an instrumental part in obliging the Imperial Army to retire from Lywall. The price demanded by the Expansionist faction for remaining settled behind defensible frontiers was the head of Pachad ben Mavet.
Pachad ben Mavet
Pachad ben Mavet, the victim of temporal displacement who found himself in the peculiar position of being an adviser, inventor and hostage for his latter-day Minarborian hosts, had been instrumental in the development of the Empire's nascent air-arm, having pointed researchers in the direction of a cache of Babkhan design blueprints, including that of the peculiar rotorcraft that would eventually take to the air once more as the notorious Whirdlebirb. His reward for this little cache, alongside the freedom to move about in Nackolom and certain advanced rejuvenation therapies, had been the directorship of a discrete armoured vehicle production line bestowed by the Hall of Thorns. In his past life, as a citizen of Ashkenatza and a senior ranking officer in its armed forces, ben Mavet had specialised in the development and production of the armoured vehicles which were to play a prominent part in the Amokolian War which had expelled Ocia from the Benacian continent. By focusing on this line of work and turning it into an obsession, Mavet had been able to stave off the symptoms of disorientation and derangement which might otherwise have overwhelmed him. A taste for cheap cognac and expensively augmented singers had also helped to quell the lingering menace of alienation from his newly contemporary Siyacho-Ashkenatzi fellow-citizens. This booze and vehicle grease fuelled idyll was not however destined to last as the sudden dissipation of the weakened necromantic energies which had sustained the Lich populations of Benacia saw the ruling caste of Liches succumb in increments to a deepening lethargy and torpor before they finally crumbled into mere heaps of bone fragments and dust. The Kossars, the mercurial yehudi horse militia of the empire's western provinces had taken stock of this new and unexpected development and prudently decided to despoil their erstwhile benefactors, the miserly Kohanim of old Kolmenitzkiy, and to sweep westwards in search of new plunder - setting in motion the sequence of events that would help to give rise to Kalgachia.
Mavet, the monocular monomaniac, would have missed the violent sack of his hometown had not the distressed shrieks of his singer partner of the hour or day distracted him from sketching out the design of a new oil filter for the Horjin armoured vehicle. Annoyed by the fuss, Mavet had ventured down to the lobby of the Hotel Blumenthal which had become his permanent residence and gunned down with his antique service revolver a couple of overenthusiastic Kossars who were attempting to rape and murder indiscriminately amongst the serving staff and fleeing clientele. Having made his displeasure at the noise known in his customarily abrupt manner, Mavet was all set to turn about and return to his suite when he was beset by a crowd of onlookers who were beside themselves with relief and gratitude, having laboured under the misapprehension that he had somehow intended to save their lives. The Alter Cocker had been about to tell them, in rather brusque terms, what they could do with that gratitude, when a certain voice in his head, which he occasionally had cause to listen to, piped up.
Instead he turned about, gave a disconcertingly warm smile and assured them, in terms of striking humility, that it had been absolutely nothing and that he would have done the exact same thing for anyone in a similar plight. This naturally only increased the raptures of appreciation for their new found saviour, and from that moment eyes all over the city and indeed across all Siyachia, at least amongst those not already intent on flight towards the national redoubt of the Octavian mountains, began to turn towards the gentleman with the eye patch.
Forces of the Resistance
The optimistically named Laqi National Army ('Laxija Aҳatkөrija Әrmija' in Laqi) was a brigade strength force formed with asymmetrical warfare in mind; focusing primarily on mobility and fast, multiple strikes on enemy forces. Infantry equipment consisted of anti-tank weaponry, grenades, yatağans, and the notorious Thump-Gun assault-rifle, a modified version of the Shirerithian Wren LMG which was another of Mavet's little contributions to the Benacian arms race. There was a small component of armoured vehicles in the form of Mavet's attached platoon of prototype Yaldabaoths and repaired Horjin support vehicles, but manoeuvrability was generally afforded by cavalry or wagons and carts expropriated from the dwindling and desperate civilian population.
Cavalry, far from being an anachronism, was of immense value in a world that was increasingly less slowly going to hell. Recruited from the Laqi and the Yehudi Kossars - peoples who spent their lives in the saddle - it had an extraordinary mobility. Unlike the Karymovka Host, who had fought with the shashka sabre out of a perverse obstinacy, the Laqi fought as infantry, but could use the horses to cover huge distances over the ruined landscape, and to tow their light artillery and rocket launchers. They were adept at the art of dispersal and concealment - to the perennial frustration of the Shirerithian reconnaissance pilots who routinely crisscrossed the Green of Inner Benacia hoping to spot a vast swarm of cavalry upon which to call down a devastating bombardment. A Laqi host could move, in its entirety, a hundred kilometres in a night - and do so at a tangent to its axis of communication, being divorced from dependency upon regular lines of supply. They were invaluable to the warlords engaged in endemic partisan warfare for the spoils of the fallen empire for scouting and ambushes. Moreover, as the performance of the Mishalanski brethren in the Konkordskaya Bratva had shown, their unexpected eruptions into the lands where civilisation still notionally held sway could cause whole empires to totter and tremble.
The Imperial Forces deployed into the Green endured catastrophic losses over the course of three months. Taken together the total figure for the dead, the wounded, and the missing (including deserters and those for whom no bodily remains were found) amounted to 21% of the total force deployed. In contrast the Imperial Army, facing the entire might of the Jingdaoese Army reported casualties nowhere in excess of 11% during the War of Lost Brothers for any one engagement. Only the Florian Army, in the invidious position of being at war with both coalitions and fighting amongst themselves, could provide examples of comparable attrition.
The burden of these casualties fell disproportionately upon the Gloomburg Supply Column which endured the unprecedented, and mercifully thus far unrepeated, occurrence of a dozen tee-als hunting in a pack and converging upon their positions, which were strung out in line of march along a narrow river valley. Dark rumours of foreign agents laying pheromone trails have never been substantiated.
The Blood Valley Mauling stymied the Imperial appetite for any further advance into the Green and saw Imperial Forces shift towards a defensive posture, digging in around Sansabury, &zeter, and along the coast, preparing the ground for what would become the Lywall Protectorate.
Ever since the conclusion of Operation Bait Harvest even the most tentative suggestion from the Imperial Advisory Council that a further advance be undertaken to "close the Poroly Gap" or "establish a second customs post facing Kalgachia" have been met with such outbursts of incandescent fury from the Magisters that, in some quarters, a military coup against the civilian government is deemed more of a likely prospect than territorial expansion under present conditions. The trauma appeared to have ingrained itself into the psyche of the officer corps in a manner akin to the so-called Triskelion Terror which had paralysed the Imperial Army during the early 1640s.
Whilst, at great cost, the operation had succeeded in creating a buffer state in Lywall between Shireroth proper and the Green, the most notable objective - the permanent demise of Pachad ben Mavet - remained conspicuously unachieved, leaving Kolmenitzkiy more firmly in the cylopean's grasp than before.