Inner-Benacian Conflict

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Inner-Benacian Conflict
Part of
1681 Central Benacia.png
Date 24.I.1681–7.X.1681
Location Benacia
Result TBD
Kalgachia Kalgachia Raspur Pact Inner Benacia Inner Benacia
Units involved
Kalgachia Kalgachi Defence Force Benacia Command
  • Unified Governorates Central Banner Group
  • ElwynnNorthern Banner Group
  • Unified Governorates Western Banner Group
Kalgachia 5,346,056‬ 3,342,677
Casualties and losses
  • 1681: 64,512 KIA
  • 1681: 26,027 KIA
Civilian deaths:
  • 1681: 252,130

With the downfall of the House of Yastreb much of the civilisational distinctiveness of the Kalgachi state began to wane. Amongst the first indications of this being the case was the silent transition to the Norton calendar and the implied re-synchronisation of the Garden with its neighbouring lands and trading partners. That this was able to occur at all was in and of itself an indication of the precipitous collapse in the prestige and authority once enjoyed by the Troglodyti - whose failure to identify and root out the manifest corruption of the later Yastrebs had done much to devalue their esoteric ruminations.

The Pommerovsky regime had tentatively lent its industrial and economic might to the cause of the Raspur Pact during the Second Amokolian War, largely on the basis that a cabal of inept militarist oligarchs were a known quantity and infinitely preferable to a new continental hegemony established by the alternative. Whilst the outcome had been near the optimum desired by the Council - a stalemate in which neither side had emerged victorious - the lethargic performance of the Pact's forces, bogged down acrimoniously before Chryste and confounded by an ill-defined Francian missile defence system on the Amokolian front had been a cause for comment. Amongst the Prefects, the Kalgachi Defence Force, and the Church's own Partisans, there arose a belief that the Raspur Pact was in fact a paper tiger. Certainly the experience of the Kalgachi themselves appeared to validate this opinion. Had not the swift and decisive mobilisation of the KDF entirely derailed the long threatened offensive of the Black Legions? When push had come to shove and the ideologues finally confronted by the push-back of determined resistance the result had not been Endsieg but rather an abrupt capitulation.

Here then was an opportunity. If Benacia Command yielded whenever subjected to the sudden and overwhelming application of force - was now not the moment to strike for further concessions and the advantageous adjustment of the frontier with schismatic Siyachia and moribund Inner Benacia. Certainly this opportunity, if it existed, was bounded by a window of time. The new Kaiserin in Shirekeep was showing indications of initiative and ability unseen during the dismal Imperial Regency. A ruler such as this might, if allowed to operate for long enough unhindered, undo much of the damage inflicted upon Shireroth by the Kalirion Fracture occasioned by the death of her father, and could even bring the old hegemonic and archonic forces back to bear upon the Garden. Surely it would be better to strike now in order to attain an advantageous position before the inevitable resumption of the former state of siege. Pommerovsky was not without sympathy for this point of view and duly called yet another Extraordinary Grand Council of senior state figures to discuss "the revision of long-standing defence and security doctrines".

The Verionian-Raspur War had erupted whilst Kalgachi preparations were still in their initial stages, and had injected contradictory impulses of urgency and caution into to the bottom-level considerations of the KDF's "Deep Command". On the one hand, striking into the UGB at the moment when the Raspur Pact was embroiled in a global conflict would hardly be well received by the UGB's allies and would disincline the Pact to accept the outcome of a limited conflict being a peace dictated in Kalgachia's favour. Against this was the realisation that, if the Iron Company were to fold, the Kalgachi economy would be left without a non-Pact aligned trading partner to facilitate exports to international markets. The inherent deterrent effect of Kalgachia's bristling and layered subterranean defence network, was held by the pro-war party to preclude an overwhelming Raspur Pact response to any Kalgachi act short of knocking down the Panopticon Citadel in Merensk. The Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes meanwhile, whilst not exactly a "pro-peace" party, retained the innate pragmatism of the diplomatic profession, argued for a limited offensive into Inner Benacia and Siyachia, an enterprise led by regional proxies that could be disavowed as the work of rogue commanders outside the formal chain of command.

Pommerovsky however scorned any proposal that reeked of half-measures. Whilst his objectives remained limited he was firmly of the opinion that it would only be demonstrating the full range of the force available to the Kalgachi state that the distracted Command Executive of the UGB could be prevailed upon to capitulate when offered an alternative to complete ruination.

Kalgachia had been planning for war with its neighbours for the entirety of its existence as a nation. The speed of its "cold start" mobilisation was stunning, no less for being the second time in living memory in which it had been unleashed upon the UGB. The regular reconnaissance overflights by Natopian satellites and the verification sorties by UAVs of the Sovereign Confederation's had revealed no indication of the two-million-strong army that the Garden had massed along the frontiers with Siyachia, Inner Benacia, and Lachdolor. In fact the opposite had been the case, with much less troop activity than normal noted. GHQ for the Central Banner Group, its eyes trained towards the frontiers with Francia and Kasterburg, had concluded that the ongoing Extraordinary Council had paralysed the decision making organs of the Kalgachi state. They could not have been further from the truth.

The reason why troop movements were reduced was because thousands of KDF and partisan troops had literally disappeared - underground. The decades of preparation for this day had not been wasted. For his or her entire life the Kalgachi soldier, from the greenest surface recruit to the deepest grade of commander, had internalised the key message that the skies were the exclusive domain of the ancient enemy, the celestial archons and the persecutors of their own ancestors. They knew that to step out of their concealed bunkers and trenches, and advance into the demilitarised zone of Inner Benacia, would have been to court disaster in the form of another demonstration of the Black Legion's penchant for massed obliteration bombing.

The Kalgachi had long-ago learnt how to minimise the fire-power and technological advantages enjoyed by the post-Shirerithian militaries of their neighbours. They knew that their tenacity, ideology, numbers, and superior aptitude in certain critical specialisms, would have to be relied upon to bring about victory. Years of laborious preparation had seen a network of tunnels expanded deep into the territory of nominally sovereign Inner Benacia, and into Siyachia. In the Deep Singers the Kalgachi had enjoyed the resource of a species specifically bred to the task of tunnelling, and their mixed raced descendants had inherited this lore and instinct, which had driven them to burrow from their mountain fortresses into the very bowels of the earth.

No fewer than 240 tunnels passed southwards beyond the frontiers of Kalgachia, each painstakingly dug by hand and carved by claw, metre by metre, and mile by mile, deeper and deeper, so as to avoid the acoustic and seismic attentions of the innumerable "geological surveys" conducted by the Honourable Company in Inner Benacia under the guise of resource prospecting. A willingness to throw labour at a problem until a solution was achieved had never been in short supply amongst the Kalgachi governing classes, and by 1681 the tunnel network was almost unimaginable in its scope and scale. Of the 240 tunnels excavated, 50 were larger tunnels with railways for suppliers at the rear, feeder tunnels giving personnel access and ensuring ventilation throughout the network, and finally assault tunnels, each big enough to cavalry or armoured vehicles and long columns of troops and their supporting porters.

At midnight on 24.I.1681 it was as if someone had disturbed a vast ant nest in several places with a large stick. Out of the tunnels and into the white and freezing night, with a snow storm blowing across the forested central Benacia uplands, poured thousands of angry Kalgachi Skivniks. This was it. No prelude, no preliminary bombardment, no chemical or biological precursor, just up and out of the tunnels and directly to the assigned targets. Surprised would not even begin to describe the situation in the Siyachian capital Litkov as all hideous varieties of Deep Singer nightmare creatures burst out into the streets of the sleep garrison city, fangs bared and venom-sacks flared, claws already smeared with the blood and gore of hapless and sleep fogged humans - soldiers and civilians alike - who had been butchered in the initial moments of the attack. Bursts of gunfire and frantic screams reverberated around the settlement as the unspeakable abominations swarmed the cantonments of the Aurangzeb Legion, the local Varþataræn division, and the headquarters of the I (Combined Arms) Corps "Siyacher", whose commander, the magister Shapur Reporter, was last seen by his fleeing subordinates, standing ramrod straight amidst the cantonment's tennis courts, emptying the chambers of his M1486 Webb-Lee revolver into the onrushing and misshapen horde, before disappearing from view, wholly enveloped in an indistinguishable mass of slashing claws, thrashing stingers, and chattering mandibles. The aerodrome of the 804 Rescue & Evacuations Regiment was speedily overrun, flight crews pinned to the dirt and disembowelled even as they frantically ran for their aircraft, which were in turn swarmed by the insensate creatures caught up in a destructive frenzy, ripping at panels and control surfaces with delirious abandon. The battle had been over before it had even begun, and what followed was a massacre as the human population of the city was relentlessly hunted and butchered. Only the Palace of the Nāśī held by the Volhyrian Kossar Brigade, remained in the hands of the defenders by the time dawn's light began to glisten upon cobbled streets made slick with the spray of blood and gore.

In Inner Benacia itself meanwhile the main assault was concentrated in a forty-kilometre arc around the northern approaches to the ruinous capital, Stonetree - whose name in the Red Laqi language of the locals was essentially unpronounceable, and from these were disgorged five KDF line divisions (the Fire Division, the 3rd Katarsis, the 4th Jollity, the 6th Bergburg and the 8th Oktavyan). Inner Benacia having been effectively demilitarised following the brief Gubernatorial-Kalgachi War of 1674 this fight too was effectively over before it had even begun. Such local forces as there were, the hired security employed by Ketshire Automotive Technologies, the observation mission from the Sovereign Confederation, and a handful of residents in the employ of the Honourable Company, joined by a few hundred or so Laqi cudgellers on the municipal payroll, swiftly saw that discretion was the better part of valour, stacking their arms and raising the white flag, eschewing active resistance in favour of a formal protest at this flagrant violation of the terms of the Slavegate Convention.

The KDF's Fortress Comand meanwhile fired two hundred Ludd ballistic missiles at three target groups. These were Łoïdhafen Sansabury, Łoïdhafen &zeter, and Łoïdhafen Merensk, the primary aerodromes of the Central Banner Air Force, and in the space of half an hour a dozen hardened aircraft shelters and hangers received direct or close proximity hits, in the process reducing 136 aircraft to charred and twisted heaps of scrap-metal.

In Lachdolor meanwhile, the 1st Legion, commanded by the legate Artur Woyrsch, found itself assailed by the partisan forces of Kalgachia. The thousands of partisans that had emerged from the tunnels caused mayhem along the forward observation posts manned by the legionaries. All along the frontier watchtowers, a fierce hand-to-hand melee took place. Around each position the snow was splattered with blood, flesh and frozen corpses, and black soot which marked the impact points of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. The legion had been stretched thin across its assigned portion of frontier, and the partisans were able without any great difficulty to penetrate the lines through the very worst terrain, following Tee-al trails along steep wooded hills and gullies, correctly considered impassable by any mechanised force. But the partisans were a motivated light infantry force. They moved in single files across a broad front, through barbed wire and minefields, the point squad of each assault company tentatively searching out the clear paths by a process of trial and error which saw casualties left maimed and bleeding from ruined stumps marking the macabre progress of the advance. The carnage might have deterred the soldiery of a lesser nation, but for the partisans this ordeal was as nothing compared to the childhood traumas of the Urchagin and, undeterred, they pressed on. In the woods and on the steep scrubby slopes, however, the Black Legions had demonstrated a malevolent proficiency in their laying of anti-personnel mines, and also, it was soon discovered, in the concealment of stake-pits, the nasty spikes of which were found to be smeared with dung and excrement. These pits had originally been dug as a gesture of ill-feeling directed by the legionaries towards the Laqi amongst whom they were garrisoned and whose smuggling and cross-border banditry had made their tours of duty in the region a misery. Now these malicious obstacles performed sterling service in holding up the onrush of a numerically superior foe. The partisan columns, caught up in these obstacles, and not infrequently lost in the dark, were obliged to regroup and await dawn before they could continue with their slow infiltration past the legionaries strong-points with a view to assaulting them from the rear.

The initial response of the Black Legions, disrupted by the knockout blows delivered to the primary bases of the Central Banner Air Force, was muted. On the following day, 43 ballistic missiles were launched from the vast ferroconcrete bastions of the Slomxala Arsenal against Gravelbottom Airport, the primary Kalgachi connection to the outside world, a critical military-logistical hub, and the primary site of the KDF's nascent air-detachment. Direct hits and or proximity strikes were recorded by satellite reconnaissance as being made against the airport's tower and control centre, the passenger terminal (destroying the Faedertellus United Airways Office outright), and the primary runway. Although the damage to the runway was quickly filled in and made good, allowing KDF operations to resume, and control of flight operations seamlessly passed to the Octavian Centre, the airport was subsequently closed to commercial aviation.

Meanwhile, the Kalgachi leadership was marred by internal disagreement. The cautious faction wanted to hold the gains they had made while trying to exort concessions from Benacia Command. The more hawkish in the leadership wanted to press on, encouraged by the apparent ease of their initial assault and the somewhat lackluster response, even entertaining notions of an assault on Sansabury. The result was instead that operations ground to a virtual standstill, with skirmishes along the line of control, but no concerted push for territory. Inside Benacia Command however, a consensus on a swift and decisive rebuke formed within the Planning Directorate, headed by Abdollah Abbasi. United behind the fact that a defeat to Kalgachia or even concessions would weaken Benacia Command and the wider Raspur Pact in the eyes of the world, the plan entailed orbital kinetic strikes against identified tunnel openings and the Gravelbottom airport, all in an effort to severely disrupt Kalgachi supply lines. Military intelligence had analysed satellite and UAV data ever since the surprise assault and felt confident in several potential targets.

Thematic representation of deployments prior to the Raspur Pact counteroffensive.

At dawn on the sixth day, the NSS Damocles unleashed its full arsenal of Kinetic Kill Vehicles, about six meter long rods of tungsten that rely on kinetic energy rather than explosives to destroy their targets, hitting the ground at Mach 10. 18 rods were launched at various targets, including several large tunnel openings identified on surveillance photos, as well as Gravelbottom airport, aiming for final decapacitation of the installation. The orbital bombardment, while not being more powerful than large bombs carried with them a psychological effect, was followed by a massive launch of 352 S-3 missiles, aimed at tunnel exits and military installations inside Kalgachia. 162 B-49 Delta strategic bombers out of the Central Tactical Air Force of Benacia Command simultaneously launched to conduct bombing raids against Kalgachi forward bases, as well as deeper into Kalgachia against military targets. These were supported by fighters from Benacia Command and the Sanaman Air Force. The massive strike wreaked havoc among the Kalgachi troops and in the command ranks in Kalgachia, while invigourating the Black Legions on the frontline, who started to push back in the Stonetree theatre and in the east. In the west, the Saznan Darneï commanded by Bivarhins Salbnan Ulfric Pentermacht was flown in from Port Benacia to push back against the Deep Singer infestation in Litkov.

The extent of the massive counterattack left the Kalgachi forces in disarray. While Deep Singers and Kalgachi soldiers held their ground against the initial attack of the Saznan Darneï, Raspur Pact forces made steady gains along the rest of the frontline. The Pact forces had sustained moderate losses in the initial Kalgachi assault, disrupting operations somewhat. However, the destruction of Gravelbottom airport and the strikes against supply lines, together with the psychological effect from the orbital strikes, had a massive effect on the Kalgachians. The destruction of several major tunnels forced supplies to move overground, making them vulnerable to airstrikes and cruise missiles. After an initial brief air conflict, the superior Pact air assets gained air superiority with continuous operations from dispersal airfields in the UGB. A major breakthrough came on 11.II.1681 when the Black Legions supported by Sanaman forces broke through defences around Stonetree. Heavy shelling of the largely abandoned and ruined city softened the defending forces allowing the Black Legions to conquer the city.

With the capital of the RIB captured, Benacia Command scored a crucial victory in the war, demoralising the Kalgachi leadership and troops. With the breakthrough, Allied forces shifted focus from direct conquest to containment, hoping to starve out the Kalgachi troops. Reinforcement were sent to the western front to contain the Deep Singer infestation, while the rest of the front dug in. In the east, the buried gravimetric tank hulls were activated as a static line of defence. In the center of the front, Sanaman and Drak-Modani troops reinforced the Black Legions. As the months weaned on, the Kalgachi leadership became increasingly agitated. With the border against Batavia and Francia closed, Gravelbottom Airport all but destroyed, and the Black Legions enjoying complete air superiority, supplies were running out, with incoming deliveries reduced to a trickle. One general remarked that my men can't eat bullets. For the leadership, it became increasingly untenable to support an army numbering in the millions with reduced rations, leading to a marked increase in desertions. The situation reached its peak when the troops at a Kalgachi outpost isolated behind enemy lines had to eat each other and then themselves in order to stay alive. During the fifth month of quarantine, the Kalgachi leadership reached out to Benacia Command, seeking a negotiated settlement and end to hostilities.

On 7.X.1681 the Treaty of Gloomburg was signed, thereby ending the war.