War of the Harpy

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Pictured: USSO Forces in the Strait of Haifa Campaign included an organization of pirates known as the Hatch Ministry (pictured left), and the New Zimian War League (pictured right).

The War of the Harpy began on 08.XI.1655 AN (insert Palliscian date here) following substantiated reports of pirate attacks on coastal shipping approaching the Natopian port of Riddersborg in the demesne of Elijah's Rest. Concurrent with the Keltian Cod War and the Brettish Campaign, it represented an escalation in the confrontation between Sxiro-Natopian and USSO-aligned maritime forces in the Keltian theatre of operations. The campaign would go on to form the heart of the War of the Harpy, an unconventional conflict between Natopia and the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union, where the conventional war resumed in 1662 after both sides had substantially rearmed and reorganised their forces in the region.

Strait of Haifa Campaign

Natopian perspective

Caputian information awareness posters frequently enjoy a second lease of life in Elijah's Rest.

As a demesne of the Bovic Empire, a subject of the Elian Union, the defence of Elijah's Rest from external attack is primarily the responsibility of local committees of defence supported by the naval and orbital assets of the Natopian Defense Force. Military actions undertaken by Natopian and allied forces in the region fall under the purview of Keltia Command, whose headquarters were established in the region.

With groups of hostile insurgents actively campaigning within the territories claimed by the Bovic Empire in Normark, the Gulf of Jangsong, and the Strait of Haifa, internal counter-insurgency operations are the responsibility of the Natopian Security Forces raised by the Minister of Security. Additional support to security forces is provided by Imperial Natopian Constabulary whose primary responsibility is the preservation of law and order, in consequence of which the constabulary contends with bandits and paid foreign agents whilst the NSF combats armed insurgents.

Outside the borders of Elijah's Rest, partisan operations, including ambushes, abductions, and targeted assassinations, are undertaken against the Jogi Regiment and followers of the Stripping Path by the Tuktuvut Confederation and the Order of the Super Secret Stripper Seekers, a very particular, if not peculiar, band of the Bovic Church Militant.[1]

Citizens of Elijah's Rest are periodically subjected to absurd and outlandish claims put about by affiliates of the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union to the effect that single-mindedly murderous religious fanatics have somehow penetrated every aspect of civil society, the military and the intelligence and law enforcement communities, in spite of never giving a satisfactory explanation as to the how and the why of these miraculous accomplishments. Actual attempts at infiltration on the ground by foreign subversives have been somewhat less spectacular. A stub-nose dressed in moccasins was caught trying to crawl amongst the pickets of the Fox-Tail Clan during the Full Moon of the 7th month in the year 1656. After the wretch was tied to a fir tree, scalped and doused in petrol, he subsequently made an interesting confession about speculating in shares issued for ventures whose nature and success were ephemeral at best. The video of his confession, and of his subsequent burning, has been shared widely on social media platforms in the Bovic Empire. Despite the extreme popularity of the snuff-video, which happily coincided with a public-relations campaign aimed at assuring the public of demesne's vigorous defence of its borders, pressure continued to mount on the government which faced calls to curb the marauding of the Stripping Path followers based in Ardclach, Jangsong and Dragevik.

Ardclach and Jangsong have separately been subjected to orbital strikes by the Natopian Defense Forces with the aim of degrading the military and economic infrastructure hurriedly deposited in the region by the New Zimian War League and the Foreign Ports of the Stripping Path.[2] Concurrent enemy air strikes against civilian settlements in government controlled areas have also occurred whilst the two sides wrestle for air supremacy over the Gulf of Jangsong.

Experiencing a disconnect between reported subversive efforts of the Bassarid government in Elijah's Rest and their own experience - of periodic air raids and atrocities committed against outlying rural communities - the region's citizens experience a certain apprehension, that might elsewhere lead to mistrust and even paranoia. To this extent, some scholars have speculated that the fabric of society in Elijah's Rest may be inexorably harmed or destroyed by the continuation of conflict in the Gulf of Jangsong. Those scholars are accused, however, of ignoring the reality that Elijah's Rest enjoys a high degree of ethnic and cultural solidarity in its Normarker and Reindeer Herder communities, the heirs to a proud kingdom and citizens of a great empire, who have endured, by virtue of their environment, a harsh upbringing that inculcates them with stoicism and a certain resilience in the face of adversity. The repeated attacks however have stirred in the Normarkers their native patriotism and a desire for vengeance against the Haifan and Outlander aggressors, whose settlers and prospectors sometimes only realise the extent of their folly as the glinting knife gouges out the first eye of a screaming victim.

In contrast to the Shirerithians, the Natopians entered the war as a relatively unmilitarised society, relying for the most part on the navy and the space fleet to provide deterrence and fly the flag for the Bovic Empire on Micras and in the Atos system. Having found itself embroiled, in a conventional two front war in the Apollonian Theatre, and now a brutal asymmetrical war in northern Keltia, the local Demesne Defence Forces found, to their discomfort, that they were obliged to do most of the heavy lifting in the bitter ground war. Nonetheless, the embittering process of the war, hardened resolve, even - in the case of the Normarker community, undermining the ancient bonds of sympathy with Nova England as it was itself menaced by an approaching Shirerithian armada.

The Haifo-Pallisicans, having grown comfortable in the occupied enclaves claimed by Natopia, and seemingly shrugging off the initiation of an antimatter warhead over the settlement of Jangsong (ignoring the 26 thousand casualties reported by the War League following the attack), persist in depicting the build up of Natopian forces, which do not have recourse to instantaneous capitalisation such as the USSO seems to be blessed with, as representing a complete loss of control over the territory of Elijah's Rest, when in truth, aside from raiding outlying settlements, attempting crude psy-ops operations, and undertaking shore bombardments with naval vessels not notably well suited to the role, the enemy has undertaken no specific action against any defended settlement that could warrant its pretensions of extending its influence further west, any more than the Natopians, who have yet to undertake more than skirmishing actions in the general direction of Jangsong, can claim to have advanced in the opposite direction. As such the towns with named garrisons of militia, organised by their own self-defence committees, remain under Natopian control, and any attack undertaken against them would be notified to Keltia Command exposing the attacking forces to retaliation.

As the situation last stood, with Natopian general orders mandating aggressive anti-shipping patrols over the Gulf of Jangsong, and the newly arrived Pallisican air assets joining the attacks on Natopian settlements, albeit including those areas where Natopian forces have yet to follow up on the cartographers by raising the flag, the likelihood of air to air combat occurring must be reckoned as extremely high. Were such an engagement to occur it might be considered that the Pallisican advantage in numbers is met by the Natopian technological edge, which remained, in spite of being seriously diminished by the defection of Professor Hazelrigg in 1655.

Bassarid (Haifo-Pallisican) Perspective

The Strait of Haifa Campaign was, for the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union, a military operation initiated by the New Zimian War League, which aimed to accomplish four primary objectives as part of its involvement in the War of Lost Brothers. The first of these objectives was to detract attention from the the Keltian Cod War, so as to encourage the safe and efficient evacuation of the Brettish Isles amidst ongoing harassment by Shirerithian Sea-Reavers. Its second objective, similarly, was to expand the window of opportunity for Nova England to prepare its military for the likelihood of direct invasion by SANE-affiliated forces. The third objective of the War League in its involvement in the Strait of Haifa Campaign was to test to the fullest extent possible the possible military applications of the Post-Standardized Currency in a large scale conflict. The fourth objective was to promote the expansion of the Stripping Path in as many fronts as possible, especially in the Gulf of Jangsong, but also in other regions including Apollonia and Benacia.

In order to accomplish these goals, the New Zimian War League initially adopted a posture aimed at disrupting the natural progression of Operation Caldera and Operation Medusa. The effectiveness of this initial posture is represented by the development of Operation Sledgehammer, a campaign that was in effect little more than a prolonged game of cat-and-mouse in the Great Western Sea, in which Shirerithian forces deferred their invasion of Nova England, in favor of pursuing across the oceans of eastern Keltia, several New Zimian naval contingencies that sought to mitigate the operations of the Sea-Reavers while avoiding at virtually all costs any significant direct engagement with the Shirerithan navy. Simultaneous to the development of Operation Sledgehammer, Passio-Corum established the Brettania Relief Fund, in order to better support humanitarian efforts aimed at facilitating the evacuation and resettlement of the Brettish peoples from their homeland.

Relying on the perpetual continuation of Operation Sledgehammer to accomplish its first two objectives in the Strait of Haifa Campaign, Passio-Corum shifted its focus to the occupation of the cities of the green surrounding the Gulf of Jangsong, to increasing support for the forces that defended the Haifan city of Jangsong, and to providing substantial financial support to rogue intelligence and terrorist organization across Elijah's Rest and the greater Gulf of Jangsong. To this end Passio-Corum quickly adopted a position of formal support for organizations such as the Hatch Ministry, which represented the first of the many ruthless criminal organizations that would soon appear in affiliation with the Foreign Ports of the Stripping Path. In order to facilitate support for the Foreign Ports, the governments of Passio-Corum and the Maritime Markets mutually agreed to replace their respective markets, the Port of Storms and the Port of Blore Heath, with the shared Port of Vines. Having adopted the Port of Vines as their shared marketplace, the Greater Pallisican Trade Union and the Maritime Markets of the Strait of Haifa entered into the political union known as the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union.

Providing economic support for the Foreign Ports of the Stripping Path, and for the other various ports of the Maritime Markets, the Haifo-Pallisicans sought to force SANE-affiliated forces into a protracted conflict against abstract, seemingly arbitrary, non-military combatants which occupied their own territory in Elijah's Rest, and in any regions across the Green, or the Strait, which they might attempt to claim during the course of the war. Acting first and foremost on the basis of the belief that by seeking to antagonize, frustrate, and ultimately exasperate its adversaries, it could significantly detract attention from other fronts around the world, thereby bringing about a more rapid end to the broader War of Lost Brothers, Passio-Corum, working in close affiliation with the most violent members of Haifan society, fostered the development of radical Bassarid religious insurgencies across northern Keltia. This plan was ultimately extremely effective; as SANE-forces increasingly focused their war effort on opposing and eliminating Pallisican-supported religious insurgencies - real and imagined - Passio-Courm increased its support for the same religious insurgencies until, reaching a breaking point, SANE-affiliated forces, in a reckless yet not un-forseen move, attempted to impose a false end to the war by claiming the cities of the Green which were occupied by Pallisican and Haifan forces, and their supported religious insurgencies. Expressing utter condemnation for what it derided as a short-sighted and mean-spirited effort aimed at white-washing history, the Haifo-Pallisicans - much to the chagrin of the SANE alliance - established the Pallisican Pretender Government of Elijah's Rest. The establishment of the Pretender Government, later known as the Bassarid Kingdom of New Normark, would be regarded as the high point of the Strait of Haifa Campaign. From this point forth, Natopia would be forced to focus on assuming control of the territories which it now claimed as its own. Lacking the means to do so, Natopia adopted a position of neutral hostility against the Pallisican Pretender Government, which - faced with little to no significant tangible efforts aimed at quelling its dominance - rapidly gained the command of its own Pallisican-supported military forces, as well as the support of a significantly expanded Jogi Regiment, and a formalized Hatch Ministry.

Following the establishment and subsequent expansion of support for the Pallisican Pretender Government, the Strait of Haifa Campaign reached an effective stalemate in which Natopia, along with its local allies including the Tuktuvut Confederation sought with little success to find a way to gain control of the territory which it claimed, while the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union continuously expanded its support for the forces opposing Natopia. In light of the stalemate, the Haifo-Pallisicans declared overall success in achieving the latter two of their broad objectives in the campaign. On one hand, the nation was able to use its economic system to great effect in bringing about an end to the conflict, while on the other its support - provided via the Port of Vines - allowed for the extreme propagation of the Stripping Path in the Gulf of Jangsong. To this extent, the Haifo-Pallisican Trade Union regarded the Strait of Haifa Campaign as an overall success. Despite its relatively high losses, which came about as a result of non-strategic orbital strikes by Natopian forces against the city of Jangsong, the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union was therefore able throughout the course of the campaign to accomplish all four of its primary objectives.

In the aftermath of the Strait of Haifa Campaign, the government of Passio-Corum experienced a brief period of relative instability as the nation's elected representatives increasingly turned their back on the Crown of Courts and her advisors. Citing the support of Kan Zen - the Harpy Queen - for the use of extreme violence against civilian targets in the region surrounding the Gulf of Jangsong, the Houses of Corum adopted, following the conclusion of the conflict, an informal policy of actively opposing most domestic and international policies put forth by the Crown or her appointed officials, on the basis that they had in the pursuit of military victory, relinquished the Oracle Mandate. Faced with such opposition, Kan Zen began the process - working closely with her advisors and allies outside of the Houses of Corum - of appointing an heir who would succeed her following her abdication. To this end, Temple Priestess and former ambassador to Caputia, Fï Ríoja del Háifa was appointed to the office of Oracle.

The Normark theatre of operations

The Giustinianni Offensive

When the Natopian forces resumed operations against the insurgent forces on 11.I.1663 it did so in the hope of timing its operation to coincide with a reorganisation of the New Zimian War League and the impending departure of Kan Zen from high office. The Bassarid forces matched Natopian moves with aggressive counter deployments at sea and in the air but it was their willingness to resort to calling in an orbital bombardment by craft of unknown configuration which blunted the Natopian ground offensive at its starting off point, restoring the prevailing stalemate in the theatre. The failure of Isacco Giustinianni to anticipate that the Bassarid forces would commit orbital platforms to the battle from the outset marked the death-knell of a once promising career - the admiral was reassigned to a miserable posting on Leng with his reputation in tatters.

The only positives that the Natopians, and the Raspur Pact by extension, were able to take away from the debacle was that the command and control structures of the Combined Arms Corps functioned well under stressed conditions and that the Zephyr acquitted itself as a versatile and rugged platform when engaged against a variety of hostile land, air, and orbital craft.

Gulf of Jangsong

Part of War of the Harpy
Date 12–13.I.1663 / 37.90 PSSC
Location Gulf of Jangsong
Keltia Command Keltian League
Units involved
1st Combined Arms Corps

4th Strike Group

Northern Gulf Division

Jangsong Division

Keltia Command Keltian League
Casualties and losses
Natopian claim
  • 32 Coastal Patrol Boats
  • 8 T-Akintos
  • 8 R-1 Whirdlebird
  • Black Angel fighter (Structural damage to control surface)
Natopian claim
  • 19 Petal UCAVs
  • 4 Aead attack helicopters
  • 3 836-C Compound Intercepts
Methodology: applied a 16% penalty rate to both sides to establish the upper casualty figure and then used random number website to generate the actual/suggested losses. Applied a 20% penalty rate to the 836-C and Aead to reflect relative disadvantage in relation to Black Angel fighters.

On the night of the 12th of the first month of 1663 the Army of the Littoral conducted the two first Roadstead sweeps of the Gulf of Jangsong utilising the flotilla of coastal patrol boats which had been built up by the boatyards of the Raspur Pact in the aftermath of the War of Lost Brothers. Two hundred of these patrol boats, from the Naval Flotilla attached to the 1st Combined Arms Corps, sortied from their anchorages to seek out targets of opportunity along the coast between Sjorborg and Riddersborg and between Riddersborg again and the insurgent held port of Ardclach. Operating in support were 75 Whirdlebird heavy gunship rotorcraft of Shirerithian configuration, of whom 40 were assigned to the coastal sweep, making it marginally the stronger of the two.

Instead of encountering any significant shipping activity the two sorties were engaged by two strike packages comprising in total of 60 UCAVs, 20 ground attack aircraft, and 10 attack helicopters, with - again - forces being distributed in such a way as to marginally favour the force vectored into the Sjorborg-Riddersborg sector.

As these forces converged, the combat air patrols being conducted by both sides overhead, peeled off to engage one another.

Hapsmark-May Hydroelectric Powerplant

Battle of Hapsmark
Part of War of the Harpy
Date 12–13.I.1663 / 37.90 PSSC
Location Hapsmark-May Hydroelectric Powerplant
Keltia Command Keltian League
Units involved
5th Bombardment Group,

1st Combined Arms Corps

Jangsong Division

Northern Gulf Division
Northern Strait Division

Keltia Command Keltian League
  • 1 Momiji Class Orbital Destroyer
  • 3 Yaddith Class Fighters
  • 3 Equatorial Class Personal Shuttles
  • 5 Alpha Class Proximity Aircraft
  • 10 836-C Compound Intercept
  • 16,140 militia
  • 1,497 Hatch Ministry
  • 14 Ossyo Class Armored Anti Aircraft
  • 40 80mm Field Guns
  • 10 Aead Class Attack Craft

The importance of the Hapsmark-May Hydroelectric Powerplant to the Bassarid garrison in Jangsong and the surrounding territories under its occupation, was illustrated by the strength of the force assigned to its defence. Coming under the guns of an orbital destroyer obliged a shift in tactics, abandoning the initial operational plan, nine of the eleven Zephyrs moved into a low Micras orbit to bring their rail guns to bear against the Momiji, whilst the remaining two engaged with the six advanced fighter and shuttle craft of hitherto unknown configuration, trying to ensure that they did not close with the main strike package of Kanberra light bombers.

The remaining fighters, 56 T-3 light attack aircraft deployed in ten groups of five ahead of the strike package with two groups of three flying escort above and behind, were left to contend with the 15 ground-attack aircraft of the opposing side.