Difference between revisions of "Verionian–Raspur War"

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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 [[S-3 Schlächter|ballistic missiles]] were launched from the vast ferroconcrete bastions of the Slomxala Arsenal against [[Gravelbottom Airport]], the primary [[Kalgachia|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.
 
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 [[S-3 Schlächter|ballistic missiles]] were launched from the vast ferroconcrete bastions of the Slomxala Arsenal against [[Gravelbottom Airport]], the primary [[Kalgachia|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.
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 +
The subsequent conduct of the [[Inner-Benacian Conflict]] fell outside the purview of the present article.
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 +
==Tentative negotiations==
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 +
*08.VI.1681: Following a discrete offer of Senyan mediation, a series of talks in round-table format were initiated in the conference rooms of the departure lounge of [[Svorgas International Airport]]. The talks continued inconclusively over the succeeding weeks and months, with Verionian frustration at the open invitation for interested parties invited to attend whilst the the Raspur Pact delegation had been incredulous at demands for territorial compensation by an ostensibly private company which had acted as the aggressor in initiating the conflict.
 +
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A nominal ceasefire held during the period of the Svorgas talks.
  
 
== Foreign Reactions ==
 
== Foreign Reactions ==

Revision as of 08:14, 15 February 2020

Verionian–Raspur War
Date 1680–present AN
Location
Result TBD
Belligerents
Iron Company

Los Liberados

Verionian Empire
Supported by:

Kalgachia Kalgachia (co-belligerent)
Guttuli Protectorate Guttuli Protectorate (logistical support)

Raspur Pact
Supported by:
Union Australis Union Australis
Units involved
Iron Fleet
Milicia de Hierro
Kalgachia Kalgachi Defence Force
Strength
452,400

437,900
112,400
Kalgachia 5,346,056‬

7,403,889
Casualties and losses
Florian Republic 4,320+
Civilian deaths:
  • Florian Republic 51,625‬

The Verionian–Raspur War is an ongoing global conflict between the Verionian Empire and the Raspur Pact that began following punitive expedition instigated by the Iron Company and allied states against the Florian Republic. This expedition itself having been instigated in direct response to the threat of appropriating Iron Company assets in the Florian Republic by the Federal Government. The Florian Campaign started in late 1680 after negotiations between a goodwill team from the Iron Company and the Florian government were broken off.

Florian Campaign

In the months leading up to the Campaign, the Iron Company had prepared extensively for a situation in which the Florian government would become hostile to its interests. Having greatly aided the faltering Florian nation following the War of Lost Brothers, this turn was unacceptable to the Board of Governance of the Company. The decision of Floria to join the Raspur Pact, which can be regarded as a front for National-Humanists keen on world domination, was decried by the Iron Company representatives in Floria, as well as the government of Los Liberados, who until that moment had been a keen ally of the Florian people. The Raspurid intentions of removing all free trade in favour of monopolistic dominance by front organisations of the Raspurid leadership meant that the bloc had become increasingly hostile towards the Iron Company, which had lead to significant problems for the Company's operations on Benacia. Not willing to repeat this in Floria, the Iron Fleet was prepared to act and, following a statement of the Florian Government that confirmed their intent on nationalisation of Iron Company assets, immediately moved to block the narrow access to the North Raynor Sea that Floria has.

First encounters at sea

With the receipt of the Iron Company's ultimatum Fleet Command had issued orders to the captains of the fleet to make necessary preparations - to take on stores and munitions, to cancel all shore leave and to ensure that personnel were recalled to their ships and duty stations as appropriate within the shortest period of time. With the formal rejection of the ultimatum, the corvettes (FRS Levant, FRS Lion, FRS Leander, and FRS Lycurgus) of the Norfolk Isles Squadron had put to sea, escorted by the Melusine-class missile attack craft - ten to port, ten to starboard, three in the vanguard, and four to the rear - and had made with all speed for the Alriggian bridge, spanning the bottleneck of the Gulf of Sennar.

In the weeks following the rejection of the ultimatum, armed trawlers escorting commercial vessels towards international waters had reported being shadowed and obstructed by a squadron of cruisers operating under the Verionian flag. These stand-offs, in spite of their impact upon commercial shipping, had been hitherto played down but now a confrontation was seemingly unavoidable. The Verionian naval blockade consisted of nineteen destroyers and four cruisers, that sealed off the small part of the sea to which Floria has access.

Approaching the vast edifice of the Alriggian Bridge, a megaproject only made practicable by Ralgon prowess in structural engineering and ruinous levels of indebtedness to Daocheng, the Norfolk Isles Squadron's columns fanned out to assume a new dispersed formation, with each corvette, a kilometre or more distant from its nearest neighbour, each with an escort of five missile attack boats, whilst a further five of the fast craft surged ahead scouting for whatever laid in wait.

The focus of the Iron Fleet was to prevent any Raspur-alligned vessels to reach the Florian waters to be able to threaten the naval blockade. To that end, the Fleet mainly operated its submarines to scout and take down any ships that could pose a risk to the blockade. The submarines were organised in packs of seven and were dispersed along the northern part of the North Raynor Sea in order to quickly anticipate any Raspur naval movements.

Attack on Port Farrar

On the morning the announcement was made by the Florian Government, the Iron Fleet deployed four aircraft carriers to Port Farrar, as well as the Amphibious Transport Docks of IFS Felix and IFS Escobar. In the months leading up to the Campaign, the security and Iron Militia presence in Floria was greatly expanded. Two waves of air raids by B-78 bombers were aimed at eliminating key elements such as roads, rail networks and military bases near Port Farrar. The Iron Militia and the Iron Fleet set out to occupy and control the docks.

The first wave of B-78 bombers was detected by a M1673-L7 Avenger of the Army Air Defence Regiment newly established in a position on the aptly named Lookout Cliff, overlooking the bay in which Port Farrar nestled. Assigned to assist the Coastguard in surveillance of the littoral waters rather than being primarily engaged in aerial defence monitoring, the inexperienced crew had initially mistook the incoming blips for calibration errors. They were running a second level software diagnostic by the time the duty warrant officer chanced upon the scene and proceeded to bellow some sense into them. Warning signals were duly flashed to 3rd Army Headquarters and, after some agonising mishaps, an encrypted data connection was established feeding the live signal returns to the air operations room at GHQ. By the time that the scramble order was given at dispersal airfields across the southern sectors of Army Group East's area of operations, the trace of the oncoming attackers was appearing on the radar images visible to civilian air traffic control, whose frantic calls of alarm and efforts to clear the skies of commercial air traffic coincided with the air operations room's efforts to vector the scrambled T-3 Akóntios towards their targets. Guided towards the oncoming bomber streams by ground-based air controllers the T-3's made a head-on pass against the lead B-78's of each formation, greeting the intruding aircraft with a burst of 20mm cannon fire and a salvo of unguided rockets, before banking sharply to left or right and diving away. The Florian air arm was still a relatively untested service and not every Akontio was deft in its disengagement, with one misjudging its turn and sheering headlong into the starboard wing of a B-78, sending both doomed aircraft into a doomed spiral like falling seed pods with a blossoming trail of parachutes left in their wake.

The garrison of Port Farrar was provided by the 19th Volunteer Grenadier Division of the Honourable Company, itself comprised of employees of the Honourable Company's various corporate security establishments, most notably of the Jagdverbände and a contingent of Euran heritage. As such there had already been, even prior to the recent deterioration in relations, something of a less than amicable rivalry between the volunteers and those members of the Iron Militia who had fetched up in Port Farrar. Indeed a strange form of segregation had developed through the city, where pubs had gradually - through a combination of patronage and a desire for some modicum of protection from near continuous brawling - been forced to declare whether they were "for" the ESB Group or the Iron Company. Where the pubs led, neighbourhoods were obliged to follow, and soon streets whose inhabitants had seldom given much thought to such matters were being forced to decide and declare whether they were for, by extension, such esoteric things as "Humanism" or "Classical Liberalism", "Capitalism" or "Guild Mercantilism", or even to be obliged to argue the comparative merits of the Batavian Confederation or the Raspur Pact. As such the city was already ribboned and festooned with checkpoints and barricades, even as the magnitude of the attack being mounted upon it became apparent.

For the garrison in the city, even as the first plaintive wails of air raid sirens began to be heard, the objective was two fold, to hold on to the barracks and depots within the city, and to push on to secure the Iron Docks. To that end a mixed column of a dozen universal scout carriers, mixed in with forty snatch land rovers and a half dozen pod armoured personnel carriers formed up on the Hawthorne Motorway. Into the compartments and onto the backs of these vehicles clambered the First Cohort of the Grenadier Division's Watch Regiment. These then gambled winning the race for the docks by driving hell for leather.

The ambiguously named General Service Corps, whose cantonment nestled within the Navy's Salford Docks, decided against waiting for orders and instead acted, as was their wont, of their own initiative in preparing a batch of 40 Type 1 Operator Directed Torpedos for a mass "swim out" against Iron Company registered shipping anchored in and around Port Farrar. In this sortie they would be supported by 80 or so Coastguard in-shore fast patrol craft whose crewmen touted Wren light machine-guns and a less than sunny disposition as they set out to conduct a sweep of the harbour area.

In the midst of this cacophony of preparations, twelve helicopters of the 31st Transport & Communications Regiment lofted from their helipads, whilst the balance of their compatriots were wheeled urgently towards their hardened blast shelters. These ADAPTOV helicopters, notable for the distinctive tiling on their fuselages, loitered but a moment before banking away to the south-east and towards the harbour area. If any of the surplus support personnel at the Coastguard air station, who were presently in the process of being issued with a rifle, two full magazines of ammunition, a flak jacket of dubious provenance and vague directions towards the airfield perimeter, had had occasion to glance up at the helicopters passing overhead, they might have remarked upon the six barrels strapped to the slid-back passenger compartment doors of each.

The surprising amount of ESB personnel present in Floria led the Iron Fleet to change tactics. The tactic of scorched earth, being a weapon well-known to Verionist forces was implemented in the North of Port Farrar, where Iron Militia personnel set the steel factory complex ablaze, but not before having stuffed the factories with samples of a modified strain of Virus Y. Before instigation, the majority of Iron Company employees had evacuated to the southern docklands, the primary stronghold of the Iron Company in the city. Calculated based on the strong South-Eastern wind, as well as modifications made to the Virus Y by Kasterburger scientists, the area affected by the deadly virus was North-Western Port Farrar. A small squadron of special Iron Militia forces remained in the area, well-protected and equiped with gas masks. At the same time the Complex was set on fire, ten squadrons of C-77 Zopilote fighters from the nearby aircraft carriers attacked the recently employed helicopters, as well as the ESB patrol boats that were making progress along the coasts.

Joining the aerial melee over Port Farrar, the F-9 Ashavan II's of the 35th Fighter Group, arriving over the city from the west, jettisoned their long-range fuel pods and activated their Froyalan radars in an effort to lock-on to the Zopilote intruders, firing off a salvo of S-2 missiles towards their quary whilst cycling through their own chaff and flares in turn.

The battle that had been developing for control of the port had come to an abrupt halt with the release of a biological weapon by the Verionian insurgent force, necessitating the defending Florian forces to devote more of their energies to controlling the ensuing outbreak of "Virus Y", containing it to the ruinous harbour town and restricting its spread so as to prevent a regional pandemic. The entire remaining force of the Florian XXII Corps, far from reinforcing a decisive push to retake the port, had been obliged to hastily cordon the port from the landward side, with barbed wire, caltrops and hastily prepared stake-pits, and hem the infected populace back where they could do no harm to their fellow countrymen by spreading an - at that point - incurable contagion.

Meanwhile the best available estimates suggested that the infection ravaged the ranks of the 19th Volunteer Grenadier Division, reducing its operational strength by 20%, representing the incapacitation or death of 4,320 effectives. ‬For the civilian population, the fate was indescribably worse, with 75% of the unevacuated peacetime population struck down in the first fortnight of the outbreak.

Behind the quarantine-line short-range unguided rocket batteries were set in place to keep-up a steady harassing bombardment of the Iron Docks, with launches being made from towed-platforms driven into place under the cover of darkness and the launchers disassembled for transport and driven away again before the coming of the dawn's light.

After being accused of three serious crimes: murder, treason and espionage due to his links with the Iron Company. Julius Wallace, mayor of Port Farrar, was arrested and was executed by public hanging in Northcliff Central Park. This showtrial execution was taken as an increased escalation by the Iron Fleet, and a squadron of B-78 bombers was deployed to launch a retaliatory strike against Central Park as well as the Port Farrar courthouse and surrounding residential areas. Against this sortie, the quick reaction flight of four FA-9 Banshees were duly scrambled and short range air defence systems stationed along the quarantine line outside the port duly alerted. The capital's own air defences, under the direct control of the Republican Guard were also alerted as the first early warnings from radar batteries and observation posts within the area of operations of Army Group East began to be fed up the chain of command.

Event Log
Date Attacker Defender Action Response Outcome Casualties
. . .

Invasion of Togafaga

The small island of Togafaga has been the second base of the Iron Company since the first pact between Floria and the Company was signed. Aldurian presence in the region had forced the Company to scale back operations, but all infrastructure, including the only airport on the island, are owned by the Iron Company. A large segment of the Iron Fleet was deployed to secure Togafaga, due to its small population, the invasion force, once ashore would be focused mainly on re-establishing full Company presence on the island as well as maintaining the security and integrity of the island.

The Florian garrison on Togafaga, established after the Iron Company had been obliged to scale back its operations there, comprised of a mere demi-regiment, or 600 men and 20 officers, of the Coastguards supplemented by a Florimell-class Troop Landing Ship and its crew adapted for survey and fisheries protection work. One of the increasingly ubiquitous "Tadpole" reconnaissance drones had recently been delivered to the island but remained in its crate awaiting the arrival of an operator and support crew from the 624th Reconnaissance Regiment. The small detachment was hilariously overmatched by the force dispatch to assail it, but the naked act of aggression on the part of the Iron Fleet's sponsors had stirred a furious response in the Euran powers of Alduria and Constancia.

Event Log
Date Attacker Defender Action Response Outcome Casualties
16.VI.1681 Iron Fleet Following the deployment of Constancian air assets to Aldurian airfields around Alkhiva, Nueva Geneva, & Alvarenga on 13.VI.1681, the intervention of the Euran powers in the conflict began with a reconnaissance flight of x4 GAV-5(P) Nereid escorted by an Aldurian Air Force spotter plane conducting a high-altitude visual and electronic survey of the island of Togafaga from Aldurian airspace and international waters.

Meanwhile, low-altitude mine-laying operations carried out under the cover of darkness by the Aldurian Air Force utilising requisitioned commercial airframes had begun during the preceding night.

Mutual defence clause

Immediately, the Unified Governorates invoked the SANE Treaty and the clauses pertaining to mutual defence, stating that an attack on Floria, an officially recognised member-state, was an act of aggression against the entire Raspur Pact, necessitating a collective and unflinching response against the Verionian Empire and all sponsors of the Iron Fleet. After a tense debate during the last day of XIII.1680 the Council of Eliria reached a majority in favour of authorising the use of force against the Verionian Empire.

The Batavian Confederation is not involved in this conflict, but will only act according to Article 4 of the Statute if an enemy attack is made against the citizens of one of its members. This position being complicated by one of its members, Los Liberados being an aggressor in the present conflict.

Keltian theatre

Event Log
Date Attacker Defender Action Response Outcome Casualties
24.XV.1680 Verionian Empire Verionian Empire x6 Asleep-class submarines & x12 Type XXV U-Boats, in a combined Sanaman-Talenorian wolfpack operation, had positioned themselves off the southern limits of the Verionian Empire's Keltian holdings during the course of the preceding weeks and remained thereafter silent in the surveillance of the hostile shores until today. The combined force launched 27 cruise missiles against Verionian air defence targets on the Imperial City of Valarion. A second wave of 17 missiles was launched later that day against the Citadel of Valarion. Thereafter the attacking force divided into 3 wolfpacks of 6 u-boats apiece to hunt for vessels of the Iron Fleet in Verionian waters. TBC
  • Pact tactical and propaganda success
  • Limited strategic relevance

By retaliating for the virus bombing of Port Farrar with a limited conventional strike targeted against Verionist power structures the Pact demonstrated its willingness and ability to respond whilst also signalling a willingness to limit escalation.

  • Majority of missiles intercepted (Verionian claim)
  • x1 submarine contact pursued by ASW helicopters and depth-charged (inconclusive)
Verionian Empire
  • 242-400 soldiers killed or wounded (Pact claim)
  • Structural damage to the Citadel of Valarion
  • Many air defence systems destroyed

Benacian theatre

Chryste

The Chryste Blockading Squadron was a unit of the Navy of Ransenar, seconded to the Eastern Banner Fleet of Benacia Command, created during the Verionian-Raspur War to enforce the Raspur Pact blockade on the Verionian Empire's sole port in eastern Benacia.

Following the proclamation of a blockade of Verionian ports on 07.I.1681, Benacia Command found it necessary to subdivide the territory assigned to the Eastern Banner Fleet. This resulted in the creation of the Chryste Blockading Squadron in the same month. In orders sent on 09.I.1681 Frainan Hohmin Selardi Jen Daniyal, controlling magister of the Eastern Banner Group, formally directed the Ransenari Navy to establish a cruising squadron to patrol the approaches to Chryste and to engage in vigorous and energetic actions to prevent the ships of Verionian or Iron Company registry from reaching harbour and to protect the shipping of third party nations by escorting them to the nearest Ransenari port for the inspection and compensatory purchase of cargos found therein to be either bound for or received from the markets of Chryste. Commodore Mattias Horne received this order and took command on 10.I.1681. His new command was to be headquartered at Zolt and entitled him to take possession of and requisition crews and materials for the vessels collected there for war service.

During the first weeks of 1681 a four-man board, chaired by Corvette Captain Shamus Targe, was formed to study the implementation of the blockade and to make recommendations to improve its efficiency. In the board's report of 16.I.1681 it was recommended that the approaches to Chryste be further divided into northern and southern sectors. On 18.I.1681 the Fleet Operations Officer of the Eastern Banner Group endorsed the report and was instructed by the magister Selardi to prepare a directive to implement the division, with the dividing line being a line drawn between the promontories marking the outer boundary of the Bay of Chryste. The Northern Division to be patrolled by four Type XXV u-boats, supported by in-shore craft and coastal missile batteries, while the Southern Division consisted to ten Natopia-class destroyers supported by land-based aviation.

The new organisation would become effective from 24.I.1681 but until that time the restriction of Chryste's access to the sea would be the responsibility of local commanders attached to the VII (Combined Arms) Corps in Elsenar, and the VIII (Combined Arms) Corps garrisoned on the frontier with Guttuli Protectorate-occupied Lunaris.

The proposed blockade was immediately challenged by a flotilla of seven destroyers, as well as the IFS Itteria and the IFS Ludovic Verion, two aircraft carriers assigned to the port of Chryste. The flotilla accompanied a fleet of cargo ships en route to Nieuw Ingelheim in Kasterburg. An extra safeguard of two packs of attack submarines, as well as two nuclear submarines, accompanied the ships. The fleet took the route past Gold Island immediately to open waters, avoiding Ransenari waters. The sortieing flotilla was subsequently discovered on 21.I.1681 by a Nereid maritime reconnaissance flight out of Lune Villa Aerodrome. This sortie being made before the blockading force had taken up station, the responsibility for engaging fell to local forces attached to the VIII (Combined Arms) Corps and the Eastern Banner Air Force. Alerts were flashed to Banner Commands in the Benacian and Apollonian theatres of operation. Whichever route to a friendly port the blockade-running force took, and there was no majority consensus as to a safe course towards a safe port that the Verionists could be conceiving of, they would face a running battle to get there.

Battle of the Southern Seas

Event Log
Date / Location Attacker Defender Action Response Outcome Casualties
21/22.I.1681
Lunatic Coast (Shire Sea)
. .
  • Verionist operational success

The Pact's attempt to prevent the convoy breaching the blockade, using multi-role strike aircraft, gravimetric patrol craft, fast attack craft, minefields and submarine ambushes, exacted a sizeable toll upon the sortieing force. More than five-hundred Iron Company and Iron Fleet sailors and airmen were killed and only five of the 14 merchant ships reached their rallying point in international waters parallel to the Guttuli Isles. While costly for the Verionists, it was a strategic victory in and of itself. Moreover the escorting force had been overwhelmed rather than defeated, the majority of the aircraft operating from the two carriers remained operational and the presence of a sizeable submarine force in the Shire Sea shifted the naval balance of power in the region.

. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .



Elwynn: a song of icebears on fire

Inner Benacia

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 and 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.

The subsequent conduct of the Inner-Benacian Conflict fell outside the purview of the present article.

Tentative negotiations

  • 08.VI.1681: Following a discrete offer of Senyan mediation, a series of talks in round-table format were initiated in the conference rooms of the departure lounge of Svorgas International Airport. The talks continued inconclusively over the succeeding weeks and months, with Verionian frustration at the open invitation for interested parties invited to attend whilst the the Raspur Pact delegation had been incredulous at demands for territorial compensation by an ostensibly private company which had acted as the aggressor in initiating the conflict.

A nominal ceasefire held during the period of the Svorgas talks.

Foreign Reactions

  • Jingdao Jingdao: The Jingdaoese Empire called upon both sides to escalate their hostilities and refrain from diplomacy.
  • Ralgon Ralgon: The Ralgons were primarily concerned about the sustenance of smooth trade in the region, as well as the preservation of the Alriggian Bridge they had a major part in building. Having themselves suffered from terrorist attacks from the Iron Company in the past (with the attack on the Glacier City dockyards in 1675), Ralgon popular opinion there was solidly with the Florians, despite the long-standing friction between the latter and Ralgon's USSO allies. Nonetheless, as of late 1680 the Ralgon government has not yet issued official statements nor taken any decisive action. This is despite the fact that the present bulk of Iron Company-controlled territory (namely, in Ralgon opinion, the Verionian Empire) is relatively close to their single most important overseas possession, Adrestia.
  • Union Australis Union Australis
    • Vatakan Vatakan: After a public vote (and a heated debate in the Great Southern Hall), the Free City of Vatakan publicly announced its concerns over the Iron Company's (and affiliate groups) militant monopolisation and use of biological warfare, and also declared that it would be sending financial aid to any forces fighting the Iron Company.
    • Cira Cira: The confederacy espoused similar worries about the Iron Company's use of biological weaponry as well as their militancy, and was concerned about the safety of its overseas possession of Vatakan, which was close to the fighting. The confederacy publicly said that they would contribute their scientific experts to any effort to find a cure for Virus Y.
    • Caradia Caradia: Caradia did not announce any concerns over the use of bio-weapons or the Iron Company's tactis like its fellow Union nations, but it did begin accelerating the extraction and refining of coal and oil for classified reasons.
  • Palesmenia Palesmenia: The Nadcrasi issued a public statement of condemnation of the use of biological weapons by the Iron Company. It was announced soon after that a search of the old Iron Company docks on the island of Ángar would take place to insure that no harmful biological agents were present. However, the Nadcrasi announced that no further action would be taken unless it or one of its USSO allies were attacked by Iron Company of forces of the Verionian Empire or Los Liberados.
  • Batavia Batavia: The newly elected prime minister Jacques Montrarde announced the start of Operation Iron: a massive police action against the Iron Company. The company was charged with having which bribed government officials of the Mackay cabinet, having stolen state funds and illegal attempts to replace the Batavian Navy with its own mercenary fleet.
  • Constancia Constancia: After news of the biological-warfare attack, daily newspaper Constancia Nea reported that a quarantine of the Imperial State was instituted, and direct travel to Port Farrar and the Florian Republic was halted. Florian nationals residing in Constancia were granted conditional asylum. The Government condemned the use of this nefarious weapon of mass destruction in the strongest possible terms, declared the Iron Company, its officers, employees, and associates, as a terrorist organization and enemies of the Imperial State, has frozen and confiscated all assets of the Iron Company within Constancian jurisdiction and subjected its officers, employees, and associates to immediate arrest. The Government likewise announced full mobilization of armed forces reserves to enable the Imperial State to deal effectively with the developing crisis, and offered any and all assistance necessary to the Raspur Pact and friendly nations to immediately resolve this crisis.
  • Senya Senya: The Senyan government released a statement calling for both sides to find a non-violent resolution, offering itself up as a location for any potential peace talks. The Raspur Pact was at least open to establishing a channel of communication via the offer of Senyan mediation.
  • Imperial Trade Union Bassarids: The Bassarids were initially somewhat sympathetic towards their Verionist rivals insofar as they too had experienced firsthand an identical betrayal by the Florian government. As the conflict waged on, however, this sympathy was corroded as the Verionian Empire engaged in acts which the Bassarid government publicly regarded as being hypocritical. Separately, the Alliance of the Bassarid Oceans - a semi-independent association of Bassarid pirate and privateer fleets - increasingly came to regard the conflict and its resulting chaos as a prime opportunity to increase its overall revenues. Raids by Bassarid pirates in Eura, Apollonia, and Keltia, increased significantly during this conflict. The Bassarid government publicly condemned the Alliance for these raids, even as Bassarid Regional Investors increased their support for the Alliance's affiliated fleets.