Blue Planet intelligence data
|The following information has not been confirmed by Volition |
and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace universe.
Parts in italic are common with FS2 retail tech entries
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- See also: Vishnans
- 1 Shivans in the Great War
- 2 The Second Incursion
- 3 The Post-Capella GTVA
- 4 Earth
- 5 Aken Bosch
- 6 Vasudans
- 7 Hammer of Light
- 8 Shivans
- 9 The Ancients
- 10 Subspace
- 11 The Rift, Parts 1 and 2
- 12 Vasudan Mysticism, Parts 1 and 2
- 13 Project Nagari, Parts 1 and 2
- 14 The Reunion, Parts 1 and 2
- 15 The Balance of Power, Parts 1 to 5
- 16 The Council of Elders
- 17 The Fedayeen
- 18 Admiral Anita Lopez
- 19 Admiral Cyrus Severanti
- 20 Admiral Chiwitel Steele
- 21 Admiral Robert Byrne
- 22 Admiral Hans Maxwell "H.M." Calder
- 23 Unknown Device Schematics (major spoilers)
- 24 Shivan behaviour (Narayana textures)
Shivans in the Great War
The destruction of the SD Lucifer in 2335 sealed the Sol-Delta Serpentis jump node and all its contingent phasing nodes, bringing the Great War to a halt and cutting off all contact with Earth. With GTI's Shivan research projects buried, and the question of Earth's fate preoccupying Terran civilization, many aspects of the Great War remained largely uninvestigated. What conclusions could be drawn about Shivan behavior, organization, and objectives remained highly classified.
In the wake of the Capella disaster, Shivan behavior during the Great War underwent rigorous re-examination as part of GTVI's participation in the Threat Exigency Initiative. In spite of this examination, and in part because of it, numerous questions remain unresolved.
Where did the SD Lucifer and its accompanying fleet originate? Why did these Shivans exhibit technology that differed from that of the Shivans of the Second Incursion? If the Shivans were able to equip the Lucifer with an invulnerable sheath shielding system, why did they not also arm these vessels with beam cannons, flak guns, or subspace weapons as seen during the Second Incursion?
Conversely, why did Lucifer-class destroyers or their shielding systems not appear during the Second Incursion? This inexplicable variation in Shivan technology levels suggests that some deeper process is at work, one which Alliance analysts do not yet understand.
The most critical question concerns Shivan behavior after the destruction of the Lucifer. With the superdestroyer gone, Shivan forces in Allied space lost strategic cohesion and ceased to aggressively pursue objectives. Almost overnight, the Shivans degenerated from a major threat to the survival of the Terran and Vasudan species and into a crumbling army of stragglers.
Some researchers have suggested this as evidence for a 'hive mind' model of Shivan behavior, with the Lucifer as a queen or leader. But GTVI investigation contraindicates this simplistic model. Moreover, no such hive or source of command appeared during the Second Incursion, where the Shivans conducted defensive operations in the nebular theater, deployed a Sathanas probe into Capella, and then pressed an overwhelming attack into Allied space.
Given these inconsistencies, the GTVI has been unable to determine the motivations beind their behaviour. As a result, further official studies have been put on hold until more data can be accumulated.
The Second Incursion
The GTVA entered the Second Shivan Incursion with the caution and contingent planning appropriate to second contact with a xenocidal alien species. The initial Alliance containment effort was overwhelmingly successful.
No unclassified source has ever explained the decision to enter the Knossos portal and attempt to press the Shivans on their own ground, but all signs suggest that the Security Council and High Command elected to test Shivan strength in order to gather strategic information and perhaps secure a permanent resolution of the Shivan threat. This decision was bolstered by GTVI's initial threat reassessment, placing the Shivans at technological parity with the GTVA.
This bold offensive strategy succeeded longer than pessimists had predicted, and the destruction of the Sathanas juggernaut was seen as analogous to the elimination of the Lucifer 32 years earlier. Shortly afterwards, Vasudan combat elements began to inflict severe damage on what were believed to be Shivan rear-area targets. True strategic victory against the Shivans appeared to be in sight.
But Shivan strategic organization did not collapse after the destruction of the Sathanas, as had been predicted. An overwhelming counterattack made it apparent that the true extent and capabilities of the Shivan species had been vastly underestimated. SOC recon elements supplied evidence that the nebula beyond the Knossos was perhaps only a perimeter element of Shivan space.
In the wake of the destruction of Capella, the Alliance was left reeling. In spite of a modestly successful evacuation effort under severe pressure, civilian confidence in the military was shattered by the sudden strategic turnabout. But the blow was felt on a deeper level.
Humanity, as a species, saw the destruction of Capella as a sign of its own cosmic insignificance. The Lost Generation's dreams of defeating the Shivans and mastering thirty-two-year-old fears were crushed. The Destroyers had brushed mankind aside like a tick and detonated a star with almost playful ease.
Broken, bleeding, and discouraged, suddenly terrified of the vast and impenetrable emptiness and the things waiting in its shadows, mankind turned its attention towards returning to its birthplace.
The Post-Capella GTVA
The Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance (GTVA) was formed in 2345, ten years after the Great War. This treaty organization recognized the autonomy of its constituents as it provided a framework for trade and mutual defense. The Great War had transformed the enmity between Terrans and Vasudans into a lasting fellowship.
As the industry and economy of the Terran-Vasudan systems recovered, support for a more powerful GTVA gained momentum. In 2358, delegates signed into existence the Beta Aquilae Convention (BETAC), named after the system where the constitution was drafted and ratified. BETAC dismantled the governments of the Terran blocs and recognized the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Vasudan Imperium as the supreme authorities of Terran-Vasudan space.
The General Assembly (sometimes referred to as the General Terran Assembly, in a reference to the old GTA) represents the Terran civilian government, while the Vasudan Imperium mirrors its function for the Vasudan species. The Security Council, which includes representatives of both species as well as elements of GTVA High Command and the Admiralty, sets long-term strategic goals, handles military matters, and defines responses to crisis situations.
The GTVA was a state that encompassed billions of diverse peoples and hundreds of cultures, but it was never a nation. It offered its citizens the promise of security and of a future built from hard work, safety, exploration, and vigilant defense. It was an appealing promise, and strategically wise, but it was insufficient to soothe the nihilistic anguish of the Lost Generation. The NTF rebellion exploded out of the Terran need for something to believe in, something more substantial than constant vigilance.
Capella shattered the icons of GTVA security. The Colossus, as much propaganda coup as strategic asset, died in a few inglorious minutes, disabled by a Shivan tactical strike and outmatched by a single Shivan juggernaut. Citizens all across the Alliance saw civilians die by the tens of thousands as the overstretched GTVA tried to protect refugee convoys.
It is debatable whether the GTVA deserved condemnation - its failures were the result of bad intelligence. But, in the wake of Capella, the population turned against the Security Council. Pundits condemned the GTVA as hubristic, militant, arrogant, and bombastic. The phrase 'gambling with the fate of humanity' was thrown about.
The GTVA had offered security. Now, in the popular eye, it was a paper aegis against an unstoppable fire - or, worse, a military junta that had tempted extinction in order to satisfy its own pride.
GTVA analysts saw in this upswelling of discontent a potential end to the GTVA. Conditions across the Alliance echoed those which had preceded the NTF rebellion.
Into this gap stepped the Petrarch Doctrine, the centerpiece of which was the promotion of a return to Earth as a beacon for human salvation. The GTVA offered this plan as a way to placate its constituents. For the past eighteen years, the plan has moved forward, even as discontent stirred on Terran worlds and relationships with the Vasudans grew frosty.
In 2335, the destruction of the Lucifer superdestroyer collapsed the Sol jump node in Delta Serpentis, severing all contact with Earth.
The fate of the Terran home planet remains open to speculation, though a number of scenarios are possible. As the center of an interstellar community, Earth could not survive in isolation without a radical transformation of its political and economic structures. On this point, there is no disagreement. However, the question remains whether this transition occurred peacefully or whether Terran society collapsed into anarchy. Strong arguments have been advanced for both sides.
For generations, Earth had been the political, economic, and cultural center of Terran civilization. Humans still measured time in hours, days, months, and years. They named their ships after the mythological figures of ancient Terran civilizations, and systems were still identified according to the constellations observed from Earth. The planet served as capital of the GTA, and the bulk of the Terran industrial base was located in the Sol system. Offworlders identified their nationality according to the old Earth boundaries, though nation-states dissolved after the discovery of subspace and the emergence of an interstellar Terran society.
Radio signals from Sol were allegedly detected by amateur astronomers in Alpha Centauri at many points during Reconstruction, but if this is so, no unclassified records survived. Any such contact in more recent years - if it has occurred - has remained classified by the GTVA.
After Capella's hammerblow to the human psyche, Earth has become an almost messianic beacon for the Terran elements of the GTVA. Its vast industrial and population base - larger than the entire Terran half of the GTVA - suggest that it could become a breadbasket for economic regrowth. Earth may offer technological or military assets that will assist the GTVA in any future encounters with the Shivans.
More critically, however, Earth offers hope. With the outside universe apparently a hostile and unfathomable place, Earth represents a chance to return to past glory, a time when human ingenuity and drive could conquer any obstacle.
Some GTVA political elements have suggested that this creed of salvation-by-assistance represents a failure of self-reliance. Nonetheless, the return to Earth currently enjoys considerable popular support. It has proved particularly divisive, however, in relationships with the Vasudans, who have repeatedly criticized the vast expenditures of the Sol Portal Project as a drain on economic recovery.
On June 18, 2365, Admiral Aken Bosch of the GTVA 6th Fleet instituted a violent military coup in the Polaris system, precipitating the Neo-Terran Front rebellion. Exploiting the spiritual and cultural dissatisfaction of the Lost Generation, Bosch's virulently anti-Vasudan ideology promoted the creation of 'Neo-Terra' as a new center of Terran power. Massive defections in the 6th Fleet, along with the output of the Freedom Shipyards in Polaris, gave the NTF considerable military strength.
In 2367 the NTF was defeated, and Bosch's command frigate, the Iceni, vanished into the nebula beyond Gamma Draconis. The frigate was confirmed destroyed in an engagement between the Shivans, the NTF survivors, and a Vasudan squadron. Bosch was pronounced dead.
What came to light in the years following the Second Shivan Incursion was infinitely more disturbing than the genocidal excesses of the NTF. Bosch's personal logs, apparently recovered from the Iceni, confirmed that the Neo-Terran Front had been nothing but an element in a larger gambit on his part.
As a young pilot during the GTI's Hades Rebellion, Bosch had gathered vast bodies of classified information on both the Ancients and the Shivans. From this knowledge, Bosch apparently concluded that the extinction of the Terran species was imminent, and could only be averted by one course of action. He believed that the alliance with the Vasudans had to be abandoned, and that mankind must achieve some arrangement with the Shivans in order to survive.
Precisely what his plan was remains unknown. Bosch instigated the Neo-Terran Front as an excuse to ransack Ancient artifacts and achieve his own ends. He constructed the ETAK quantum pulse device using information from GTI's Project Nagari stolen from Vasudan sources. He deployed the NTC Trinity to attract Shivan attention to allied space. And, in a callous sacrifice of his own followers, Bosch led a staggeringly costly advance through Capella and into the nebula itself.
The Iceni jumped through the nebula, broadcasting signals from the ETAK device, for some time. After considerable effort, the Iceni made peaceful contact with Shivan forces (which had apparently been stalking it for weeks). Shivans boarded the Iceni, captured or retrieved Bosch's command crew, and then slaughtered the remainder.
Bosch vanished into Shivan space. Shortly thereafter, the Capella detonation occurred. Whether these two events are remotely related is unknown.
It is rumoured that GTVI operatives retrieved survivors and the schematics of the ETAK device from the Iceni.
The Vasudans are a civilization of philosophers, artists, and scholars. They immerse themselves in the teachings of those who came before them, perceiving history not as a linear chronology of events but as a space inhabited by both the living and the dead.
To the Terran outsider, Vasudan society appears convoluted and ritualistic. The Vasudans themselves may seem arrogant, treacherous, and superstitious. On the other hand, Vasudans tend to view Terrans as aggressive, paranoid, and stupid. Thirty years of peaceful interaction between Terrans and Vasudans has helped to deconstruct these stereotypes.
The crowning achievement of the Vasudan civilization is its language. For the average Terran, the formalities governing its usage are beyond comprehension. Syntax and vocabulary are dictated by such factors as the speaker's age, rank, and caste, the time of day and the phase of the Vasudan calendar, and the relative spatial position of the speaker to the Emperor. This is further compounded by the existence of several alphabets, dozens of verb tenses, and thousands of dialects. A translation device is standard on all GTVA communications systems, enabling Terrans and Vasudans to understand each other.
Because the Vasudan homeworld was primarily desert, the Terrans used Egyptian names to designate Vasudan warships during the Terran-Vasudan War and the Great War. After the defeat of the Shivans, the Vasudans insisted on maintaining this convention. The Emperor strongly identified with the history of Ancient Egypt, particularly the longevity of its civilization. Following their Emperor's example, Vasudans will take on what they call a Terran name from the myths and history of Ancient Egypt.
In the years following Capella, Vasudan civilization has prospered. Their unique views on morality and history have allowed the Vasudans to overcome the loss of their homeworld. While much of Vasudan culture may seem melancholy - 'a people birthed in sorrow, die in sorrow' - Vasudan scientists, engineers, artists, writers, and poets continue to add to a staggeringly rich cultural tapestry.
The comparative success of Vasudan economic and political policy, vis a vis Terran collapse and singleminded focus on the return to Sol, has created considerable rifts in the Alliance. Terran-Vasudan relations are at a low not seen since reconstruction.
In spite of its deep historical roots, Vasudan society today is vibrant, prosperous, and outward-looking. Yet Capella did not leave the Imperium untouched. The past 18 years have seen the resurgence of the Hammer of Light ideology in a more contemplative and less militaristic form. Many Vasudans continue to believe that the Shivans are the hammer of the universe's judgment, a punishment for sin on the species-wide level. Some Hammer of Light thinkers claim that the Shivans consistently arrive when one species is engaged in violence against another, citing the Ancients, the Terran-Vasudan War, and the NTF rebellion as three points on this trendline.
Political rumor has it that Vasudan Emperor Khonsu the Second has taken counsel with certain Hammer of Light thinkers, as well as even more esoteric mystics and prophets. The meaning of these actions remains unclear.
Hammer of Light
The dark side of the Vasudan obsession with history was the emergence during the Great War of Hammer of Light (HoL), a cult that gained a strong following among the PVN, resulting in defections to the HoL cause. The HoL believed the Shivans were the cosmic redeemers and destroyers predicted in obscure prophecies written thousands of years ago. Following the destruction of the Lucifer, the ideology and activities of Hammer of Light shifted.
Today, the Hammer of Light remains active, but its military aims are long gone. Instead, Hammer of Light members act as a secretive undercurrent in Vasudan society, whispering dark warnings that the eternal, infinite will of the Shivans is still watching, ready to punish Terran and Vasudan transgressions alike. Hammer of Light ideology continues to paint the Shivans as a necessary and redemptive force in the cosmos, a vital force - yet the work of Hammer of Light artisans glorifies the carnage of the Shivan apocalypse in a way many Terrans find disturbing. 'The Ones Who Dance in the Garden' is an example of a Hammer of Light work that received considerable coverage in Terran politics.
50 years after the Great War, 18 years after the Second Incursion, we still know almost nothing about the Shivans.
Physically, the Shivans have multiple, compound eyes and five legs with claw-like manipulators. Their insect-like carapace does not appear original to the creature's physiognomy, suggesting the Shivans are a cybernetic fusion of biology and technology. The integrated plasma weapon also exhibits properties of an organic-artificial fusion. The weapon may be a kind of focusing device powered by the energy of the being itself, though this point is the subject of heated controversy.
These details are cited as evidence that the Shivans could not have evolved as the Terran or Vasudan species had, but that they were likely constructed by another entity. Only a handful of Shivans have ever been captured, and all research on live specimens ended with the GTI's Hades rebellion in 2335. The results of these studies remain highly classified.
Though the Shivans are obviously xenocidal, their motives and origins have yet to be determined. According to Ancient artifacts, the Shivans seem to possess some kind of sensitivity to subspace disturbances. We do not know if the Shivans returned to this corner of the galaxy by chance, by cycle or pattern, or by their detection of Terran-Vasudan subspace travel.
Xenobiologists know very little about Shivan society. A leading hypothesis is the hive mind theory, arguing that Shivan society is broken down in specialized functions driven by a collective intelligence. The most convincing evidence supporting this theory is the behavior of Shivan forces following the destruction of the Lucifer, the turning point of the Great War. Other experts caution against attributing insectoid properties to the Shivans, regardless of their appearance and behavior.
The NTF ETAK project confirmed that Shivan communications occurs in modulated quantum pulses, exhibiting some nonlocal and possibly even acausative properties. Whether ETAK simply drew the attention of the Shivans or actually enabled communication with them remains hotly disputed. The nature of Shivan 'language', if it can be called such, suggests that their cognition may be so alien as to render communications or even common thoughts effectively impossible.
Ancient legend suggested that the Shivans were born from the flux of subspace, intended by the universe to eradicate aggressively hegemonistic species and preserve diversity. The Shivans do not appear to 'live' in subspace, but other elements of the Ancient legend are currently untested.
In conclusion, the lessons of Capella must be restated. The Shivans are an incredibly powerful, sophisticated species, exhibiting incredible diversity in their technological prowess. No Shivan shipyards have ever been sighted, nor any Shivan population center, suggesting that the species as a whole may be nomadic and spaceborne. How the Shivans manufacture new vessels remains unknown.
The Shivans have exhibited the capability to engineer subspace and destroy stars. The purpose of this action is unknown. Some have suggested that they may be creating nebulae, which may be their preferred habitat. Others have suggested that the Shivans are creating supernodes that link portions of their space or even link our universe with others.
Whatever the true answers, it is currently believed that the Shivan species may occupy most or all of the Milky Way galaxy, and may even extend beyond. Further contact with this species is almost a certainty, but their capabilities and objectives remain completely unknown.
During the Great War, as the annihilation of Earth seemed imminent, Vasudan scientists discovered the ruins of an extinct civilization we now call the Ancients. Data excavated at the site enabled the allies to track and destroy the SD Lucifer in subspace.
After the Great War, scientists uncovered more sites throughout Terran-Vasudan space. Though only fragments remain, this interstellar society thrived thousands of years ago. Their empire was more expansive than the current boundaries of known space, and archeologists believe they might eventually uncover a map of the Ancient nodes, enabling the Alliance to travel to systems previously uncharted.
There is virtually no visual record of this civilization, except hieroglyphic forms discovered at the archeological sites and a handful of technological schematics. Major excavations are underway in Altair, Aldebaran, and Deneb, but the data gathered there remains classified at the highest level.
Terran archeologists use a Minoan naming convention to identify sites and major artifacts. Current evidence suggests the Shivans exterminated this civilization over eight thousand years ago. The Ancients believed the Shivans were a race of cosmic destroyers, and that the extinction of their species was an act of retribution for striving beyond their ordained place in the cosmic order.
Recent archaeological findings seem to be artifacts of a species annihilated by the Ancients between eight and ten thousand years ago.
In simple terms, subspace is an n-dimensional tunnel between one point in the universe and another. A vessel can travel through this tunnel in a matter of minutes, making a journey that might otherwise take decades or even centuries at light speed.
A jump drive causes a ship to vibrate in multiple dimensions until its modulations are in perfect synchronization with the subspace continuum. A vortex opens, creating an aperture from an infinitesimally small point in the cosmos, enabling the vessel to cross the subspace threshold.
Two types of jumps are possible.
First, an intrasystem jump can occur between two points in a star system. Most small, space-faring vessels are equipped with motivators capable of these short jumps. The presence of an intense gravitational field is required, prohibiting travel beyond the boundaries of a star system.
Second, ships can jump from system to system via nodes. Until the Great War, only larger ships could generate sufficient power to use jump nodes. The development of jump drives for fighters and bombers in 2335 enabled the Alliance to destroy the SD Lucifer in subspace. Producing these small jump drives is prohibitively expensive, so they are restricted to missions that require pilots to travel between systems. The Head-Up Display indicates the location of jump nodes with a green sphere.
The vast majority of subspace nodes are extremely unstable, forming and dissipating in nanoseconds. Other nodes have a longer lifespan, existing for centuries or millennia before collapsing. The jump nodes sanctioned by the GTVA for interstellar travel are expected to remain stable for many years.
Shivan vessels have exhibited the ability to traverse unstable nodes. This capability was put to extensive use during the Great War. The GTVA maintains a continuous watch for the formation of new unstable nodes in Vega, in case the Shivans attempt transit from Capella.
The tactical details of intrasystem jumps are of vital importance to modern space warfare. A warship's subspace drive must take time to recharge between jumps. Additionally, a jump solution must be calculated, a process which may take considerable time depending on the precise position of the departure and destination coordinates, the presence of massive objects along the jump path, and even the unpredictable nature of subspace itself.
The Rift, Parts 1 and 2
The eighteen years that followed the Capella supernova were not kind to Terran-Vasudan relations. The reasons for this were as much psychological as political.
As the post-Capella economic collapse accelerated, secessionist movements and brush wars sprang up in outlying GTVA systems. Following the pattern established by Marcus Glaive’s GTI insurgency and Bosch’s Neo-Terran Front, these conflicts disproportionately targeted Vasudans as symbols and perpetrators of humankind’s economic and ideological disintegration. The reasons were not complex - fringe demagogues and seditious militia leaders saw the Vasudans as an easy way to unite disaffected Terrans. Alliance citizens were often initially unwilling to revolt against their own government, but found it easier to accept passive resistance or armed uprising when their hostility was steered towards the Vasudan elements of the GTVA.
The GTVA response to these brush wars was initially coherent and coordinated. However, the Vasudophobic nature of the conflicts presented new challenges. Terran elements of the GTVA fleet had suffered more casualties than their Vasudan counterparts during the Shivan incursion (despite extensive Vasudan operations in the nebular theater). Moreover, the Vasudan Battlegroup organizational scheme was more flexible and versatile than the Terran Fleet model. This meant that, in many cases, GTVA High Command deployed Vasudan warships to take up patrol and intervention roles that would normally have been filled by Terran ships and crews. Perceived Vasudan ‘meddling’ in border conflicts only deepened Terran fears of the economically prosperous and militarily intact Vasudans, exacerbating growing ideological rifts and prejudices. Meanwhile, Khonsu II’s willingness to put Vasudan ships and aid workers in harm’s way in missions to stamp out Terran brushfires led to some degree of discontent amidst the Vasudan technocrats and politicians of the General Assembly. This tension inevitably began to contaminate relations within the General Assembly, even between Terrans and Vasudans who had once been friends and political partners.
By 2370, these political effects were boiling over. Vasudan warships on peacekeeping missions were frequently targeted for attack, and in at least one incident, a clever separatist ploy led a Terran corvette to assault a Vasudan cruiser in ‘defense’ of what the Terran captain believed to be a innocent refugee convoy. Meanwhile, Terran politicians continued to bicker over the terms of Vasudan aid in post-Capellan reconstruction, unwilling to either accept too much Vasudan aid (for fear of angering anti-Vasudan constituents) or too little (simply because Vasudan aid was necessary and vital). Admiral Petrarch’s drive to devote funding to the return to Sol rather than to reconstruction efforts frustrated Khonsu II, who accused the Admiral of ‘looking to the past instead of to the stars for answers.’ In return, Petrarch, once a staunch advocate of Terran-Vasudan military integration, accused the Emperor of petty jealousy over the prospect of the Terrans regaining their homeworld where the Vasudans never could. Khonsu handled the personal affront better than most Vasudans might have, but the damage was done.
Within the next two years it became apparent that Terran-Vasudan relations were decaying. Political chill crept into the military, and officer exchange programs tapered off. In the Capellan era, the GTVA had been on the verge of becoming a truly integrated society. The ‘frog calls’ of Vasudan intercom chatter were becoming a welcome sound on Terran destroyers, and Vasudan society in general had begun a sharp turn away from ritualized, formulaic protocols and towards a more Terran model. These social changes reversed themselves with startling rapidity, born out of growing Terran pessimism and the (ironically reversed) Vasudan perception that the Terrans had become backwards-looking, superstitious, and hidebound.
On the Vasudan side, animosity towards Terrans grew as they continued to devote resources to their return to Sol. The prosperous, cosmopolitan Vasudans of the post-Capella era looked down on the Terran fixation with their homeworld and resented continued Terran xenophobia towards the Vasudans. In Vasudan eyes, the Terrans were petulant, tribal, fractious, immature, overly focused on a return to their planetary womb, and devoid of the kind of racial pride that the Vasudans felt towards their Emperor.
While Vasudan contractors continued to build warships for the Terrans, and Vasudan engineers and tacticians worked closely with Terran friends on the design of a new generation of warships and weapons to counter the Shivan threat, the GTVA military began to segregate. Khonsu II reinstated the Medjai, a close-knit band of military leaders and admirals who reported directly to him. The Medjai began an ambitious restructuring of the Vasudan military in order to create a totally self-sufficient and powerful force capable of power projection, sustained counter-insurgency operations, and node denial. The Terrans, who were still struggling to get their own new warship program off the ground in the face of massive debt, were not pleased to see themselves so thoroughly eclipsed. Terran elements of the General Assembly accused Khonsu II of planning this move even before Capella, citing the Vasudan insistence on developing and deploying their own Setekh AWACS instead of adopting the superior Terran Charybdis.
Joint Terran-Vasudan military exercises continued in a cursory fashion for the next several years, but only in the form of planned responses to Shivan incursion. No counterinsurgency operations in either Terran or Vasudan space were gamed out. Officer exchange programs did not resume, simply because the political will for such a reconciliation did not exist. The Vasudans had found their place amongst the stars, and the Terrans were busy trying to go home.
Vasudan Mysticism, Parts 1 and 2
The Emperor and the Prophet
While relations between the two species deteriorated, Khonsu II was taking counsel with a new power in the Vasudan court. The demonstration of massive Shivan power that was Capella triggered a resurgence of the dormant Hammer of Light ideology in a number of (variably militant and virulent) forms. Khonsu II moved to discourage this type of thought, seeing in it an echo of the Terran ideological collapse. During this ideological normalization, he encountered a very unusual new figure: the Jester Nabirasul.
The Vasudan species had always taken a different attitude towards mysticism than the Terrans. Vasudan society had, from its earliest days, failed to make a significant distinction between science and religion, not because religion was allowed to dictate scientific findings, but the reverse. Mysticism was simply viewed as a less precise tool for measuring the cosmos, one that blended neatly into science as new discoveries were made.
Terrans often found (and continue to find) this aspect of Vasudan society difficult to understand. In Terran circles, science was viewed as a useful, rigorous, ‘hard’ way to achieve answers and results, whereas mysticism (including the belief in ‘ascended life’ or ‘energy beings’) was simply a form of self-deception combined with coincidence. Vasudan society, however, was built on myths of a powerful ancient race that had visited and touched their homeworld ages ago, myths that were largely substantiated by the discovery of the Ancient civilization. To the Vasudans, the existence of higher powers in the universe had always been a given, and the belief that communication with them might be possible was seen as reasonable rather than mad. The Vasudans did not believe that ‘any sufficiently advanced technology was indistinguishable from magic’. They believed that magic had always been sufficiently advanced technology.
A central part of Vasudan culture was the value of bloodlines. The Vasudan worldview included a nonlinear perception of time with moral and social implications. A Vasudan believed that she existed in the same overall spacetime as her own ancestors and descendants, and therefore, her actions would be judged both by her forefathers and her progeny. This lent both an air of fatalism and a willingness to heed prophecy to Vasudan culture, and it was often credited as a contribution to the Vasudan talent at analytical foresight. The great Vasudan successes in economic and cultural fields were often based on the ability to deprecate near-future gain in favor of long-term planning. Even the tragic loss of Vasuda Prime was cushioned by the belief that distant ancestors remained a living part of Vasudan culture.
No Vasudan mastered the union between the mystical and the secular more completely than Khonsu II. The Emperor took divination and mysticism into consultation as he planned the movements of battlegroups and the regulation of his prosperous economy. Terran scientists flocked to observe this phenomenon and concluded that Vasudan ‘prophecy’ was in fact startlingly reliable: perhaps an inbuilt, powerful form of analysis and intuition, capable of ingesting and synthesizing vast amounts of data in order to determine trends. The Vasudans, however, stubbornly maintained that prophetic abilities amongst their species, including those once claimed by members of the Hammer of Light, were in fact the result of communion with powerful alien beings. The term ‘supernatural’ is never used in Vasudan mythology. The Vasudan view is that anything which occurs is natural and scientific.
As Khonsu reined in the briefly renascent Hammer of Light sects, an extraordinary new prophet came to his attention. This so-called ‘Jester’ Nabirasul, a military analyst and former warship commander, veteran of the nebular campaign, completely unaffiliated with the Hammer of Light, claimed to have achieved a vague sense of communion with the Shivans, foreseen the destruction of Capella, and understood its dread purpose.
Khonsu took this claim seriously and immediately drew the Jester into his confidence. The reasons for this apparently startling move can be traced back to a GTI project unearthed after the failed Hades Rebellion: Project Nagari.
Project Nagari, Parts 1 and 2
The Curious Case of Lieutenant Ash
As the Great War careened towards its momentous conclusion, elements of Galactic Terran Intelligence found themselves with a difficult question to answer. As if the Hammer of Light fanatics were not enough, some members of the GTA military began to report feelings of nonspecific, fear-inducing emotional contact with Shivan forces. The first report was based on analysis of flight data recordings from the massacre at Riviera Station. Lieutenant Ash, the last survivor of Terran Patrol Wing Gamma Three-Niner, claimed to ‘feel’ Shivan forces following him. This was initially attributed to post-traumatic shock from the Shivan encounter, but GTI scout wings had been following Shivan movements for weeks prior to the Riviera attack, and other pilots began to report similar sensations of nonspecific mental contact.
After the McCarthy defection, post-trial interrogation of McCarthy by GTI operatives suggested that he, too, had become convinced of the Shivan threat after communication with a Vasudan captive who related the Hammer of Light ideology and stories of transcendent contact with the Shivans by meditating Vasudans. The Vasudan captive did not attribute this communication to any supernatural force, but to some form of detectable communication in use by the Shivans. Project Nagari was initiated to isolate this means of communication, determine which humans were Sensitive to it and why, and attempt to create a countermeasure or even a form of communication.
Project Nagari was only entering its initial stages when the Hades Rebellion came crashing down. But its conclusions fell into the hands of the Vasudans, and Khonsu II read its initial postulates, regarding quantum-pulse transmission and Shivan behavior, with great interest.
When the Jester stepped forward in the wake of the Capella massacre as another example of such ‘sensitivity’, Khonsu had already prepared contingency plans to verify the trustworthiness of such a prophet. Although the Nagari research was incomplete and uncertain, initial testing suggested that Nabirasul possessed the profile of a possible P-sensitive individual.
The Missing Pieces
Neither Khonsu II nor Aken Bosch (who first replicated this natural communication ability in artificial form via Project ETAK) were aware that other sensitives had played, or would soon play, a critical role in Terran-Vasudan history. Two already mentioned here were Samuel Bei and his father. Another, lesser known, was the pilot who destroyed the Lucifer, who received not only a sense of the purpose of the Shivans, but in fact later reported full-length audiovisual hallucinations of an Ancient narrating the rise and fall of their empire at the hands of the Shivans. Although this pilot was trapped in Sol, and so never came into contact with Project Nagari, he was debriefed extensively. These reported visions were discovered to align perfectly with the myths and legends that the pilot’s Vasudan comrades (also trapped after the node collapse) remembered about the ancient race that had once visited Vasuda Prime.
It is not entirely possible to confirm the notion that this pilot’s visions served as one of the focal points of the Ubuntu Party’s rise to power. Certainly the claims by some that the Elders maintain contact with advanced alien species are similar to this pilot’s visions. What is almost certain is that the Vasudan pilots who accompanied this Terran into Sol vanished into the ranks of the mysterious, semi-mystical Fedayeen black ops force at some point after the Ubuntu Party solidified its power. It is believed that these pilots remain alive today.
The inescapable conclusion of Project Nagari was that elements of the Terran and Vasudan populations were capable of decidedly non-mystical communication with alien species via the detection of modulated quantum pulses. What was not clear was whether the Shivans (and their lesser-known counterparts) were simply being eavesdropped upon, or whether they were intentionally reaching out.
The Jester’s visions were incomplete and incoherent. What became clear to Khonsu II was this:
- The Shivans were a vastly more alien, powerful, and extant force than anyone had at first believed.
- The purpose of the Shivans was discernible and definite, but incredibly vast, and somehow linked to something the Jester referred to as a ‘broken trinity’.
- The Jester was fixated upon something he called a ‘deepness’ which he could not describe.
- Something unspeakably terrible would occur within the next fifty years.
At least one vision concerning this latter point left the Jester in need of antipsychotics before he could regain the faculty of speech.
It was at this point that Khonsu II elected to reform the Medjai and begin preparing the Vasudan race to fight the oncoming apocalypse. When, in later years, he became aware of the imminent Terran invasion of Sol, he elected not to intervene, simply because he could not afford to weaken his own military in the face of the unknown threat.
When the initial Terran incursion into Sol stalled, elements of the Terran High Command approached Khonsu and proposed the beginnings of a new reconciliation centered around Vasudan logistical support for the Terran invasion. Khonsu presented the idea to the Medjai and the rest of the Vasudan government, suggesting that it might end the war and bring the Terrans close again in time to face the new threat.
As the civil war ground on, deliberations began. Khonsu II was faced with a fateful decision: would he cast his lot in one side of the Terran civil war in order to safeguard his people against future catastrophe? Or would he maintain his independence and the moral high ground, and risk extinction?
The Reunion, Parts 1 and 2
Morian and Leicester
The initial GTVA foray into Federation space was a disaster for both sides. Admiral Morian, disoriented by the events of the past few days and the sudden departure of his commanding officer, bungled initial contact with the Renjian so badly that he was almost immediately relieved of command.
GTVA High Command’s intention had been to position the 14th Battlegroup throughout Sol and only then demand surrender as additional GTVA forces from the Fourth Fleet poured in through the node. During the time that the 14th had been absent (between the initial transit and its abrupt return several days later), GTVA High Command had moved the waiting Fourth Fleet into a defensive posture, believing that the UEF had destroyed the 14th Battlegroup. The fear was that the Elders, having interrogated GTVA survivors, might be preparing a breakout towards Beta Aquilae. When the 14th reappeared, Command ordered the Orestes to carry out its standing orders immediately – meaning the execution of the plan to disperse throughout Sol, assume bombardment positions above major capitals, and only then request surrender. The GTVA 4th Fleet was ordered to scramble to the Sol node in Delta Serpentis and begin a crash transit.
Admiral Morian, meanwhile, was exhausted and agitated after the 14th Battle Group’s odyssey into unknown territory. His service in Capella had left the man with a deep-set but largely unrecognized fear of the Shivans, and recent events had exacerbated this phobia. Under pressure, he (incorrectly) assumed that the order to ‘execute standing orders’ meant that the Orestes should refer to standing timetables for the Sol invasion – and since the invasion had been scheduled to begin days earlier, he immediately commenced hostilities. Popular historians have frequently condemned Morian’s actions as unprofessional and rash. But, arguably, Morian made the correct choices based on limited information: in the face of the desertion of his beloved Admiral, and a sudden and shocking return from a veritable nightmare, Morian used the schedules and plans that he was aware of to adapt his actions. In a time of tremendous crisis, Morian fell back on his training.
For the UEF’s part, the arrival of the 14th was not unexpected. The Elders had greeted the sighting of GTVA probes with open arms, and in spite of a Fedayeen (the paramilitary black ops unit reporting directly to the Elders, often - and arguably correctly - labeled 'state sponsored terrorists' by the GTVA) report suggesting that the probes were stuffed with sophisticated ELINT gear, prepared no military contingencies for the GTVA’s arrival. The widespread assumption was that Earth’s lost brethren had achieved a degree of peace and enlightenment similar to that which pervaded Sol (barring certain elements of the Kuiper periphery and the military). The coexistence of Terran and Vasudan technological elements in the probes scanned by the Fedayeen was cited as evidence for this view.
Only when the newcomers failed to arrive in a timely manner did the Fleet Admirals (Calder, Byrne, and Netreba) convince the Council of Elders to prepare a limited military response. Admiral Calder also initiated a ‘training exercise’ for the Third Fleet, loading several frigate divisions with live ammunition and practising quick-response jumps to various points in the system. When the 14th finally did arrive, the Renjian responded to reports of a massive subspace transit with conflicting orders. The Elders’ standing request was that the visitors be escorted directly to Earth. Admiral Calder privately requested that Captain Leicester hold the newcomers at the node as a measure of caution.
When it became apparent that the newcomers had hostile intentions, Captain Leicester reacted rashly. Believing the GTVA warships comparably armed to his own Karuna, Leicester engaged the Orestes while calling for the 3rd Fleet to respond. He promptly found his ship gutted by the Orestes’ plasma beams – the first occurrence of a tactical nightmare that would plague the UEF for the rest of the war.
Calder deployed four frigates to the node but wisely held back his destroyer, the Toutatis. The loss of a second frigate to beam fire from the Orestes convinced Calder to avoid committing the rest of his assets, and his ships retreated, leaving the node uncontested. Meanwhile, the Council of Elders had gathered for an emergency meeting and authorized unlimited defensive action by the military. In retrospect, if the UEF had attacked at this point, victory would have been nearly assured - the Temeraire, Duke, Labouchere, and Miranda were all out of action due to mutiny and other vessels were operating at degraded crew levels.
Failure of the Beachhead and Fourth Fleet Assault
At this time only two hours had passed since the arrival of the Orestes in Sol. Unbeknownst to the UEF, widespread mutiny was underway amidst the 14th Battlegroup. Some ships defected wholesale, command crews intact. Others were rendered inoperable by onboard sabotage. Had the UEF pressed its advantage at the moment, they might have captured the node (if only temporarily). However, Calder, Netreba, and Byrne were still trying to deduce the capabilities and motives of their opponents, and most of their warships were still loading up for combat at this time.
Two hours later, the Fourth Fleet began its transit into Sol. The 13th and 16th Battlegroups, under the GTD Meridian and GTD Requiem, consisted largely of Capella-era warships, but their Deimos and Hecate combatants – if lacking in the overwhelming shock power of the newer warships – were an easy match for everything in the UEF arsenal. These ships relieved the remaining warships of the 14th Battlegroup and plans were drawn up to assault Neptune.
Although their available assets included two destroyers and multiple corvettes, these vessels were not committed simultaneously. Both GTVA and UEF military doctrine recognized that a warship in reserve was more powerful than one in the field – capable of jumping in and attacking a committed enemy from a weak direction. Moreover, broad deployment of capital or fighter assets left rear-area targets open to attack, including (in this case) the Delta Serpentis node itself. For this reason, both sides committed no more than six or seven warships to an engagement at one time, a policy that would continue for the remainder of the war.
The 13th‘s initial assault on Neptune was repelled. While the defending force, two frigates and four cruisers, was annihilated by beam fire, the UEF fighter corps ripped apart the 13th’s screen and close-assaulted the GTD Meridian with gunship-mounted weapons, demonstrating the UEF’s main advantage over its GTVA counterparts. The Meridian withdrew, losing a Deimos escort in the process.
The Balance of Power, Parts 1 to 5
GTVA and UEF Fighter Corps
Where the GTVA had invested in cheap, sophisticated superiority fighters capable of independent operations since Capella (an answer to qualitatively inferior Shivan bombers), the UEF fighter corps maintained a moderate reserve of extremely capable high-firepower fighters and gunships. Lacking intersystem jump drives or sustainable energy weapons, these short-duration, low-fuel, high-intensity UEF fighters - the Uhlan, Kentauroi, and most notably the Uriel - were an easy match for the GTVA’s four- and six-ship wings of obsolete Myrmidons and Nahema-screening Kulas.
UEF pilots, meanwhile, had trained to operate in close coordination with their warship assets, whereas GTVA pilots generally stood well clear in order to avoid friendly beam fire. The Jovian pilots of the UEF Third Fleet, unlike Terran pilots from the First Fleet's Solaris, were disciplined, very well-trained, and largely drawn from active-duty military ranks rather than from reservists. While many of the GTVA Fourth Fleet’s pilots had comparable combat experience and better training, they were thrown into battle without appropriate preparation or complete orders due to the hastiness of the Fourth Fleet’s move from defensive posture to attack.
The combination of fast, cheap GTVA fighters and non-survivable bomber assets built to attack numerous but thinly defended Shivan warships made even experienced GTVA pilots easy pickings for their UEF counterparts. Only the GTVA’s more sophisticated warcraft, including the Perseus interceptor and Aurora scout fighter, excelled in the Terran theater, and this would remain true for the remainder of the war. In order to compensate, GTVA High Command put a premium on new ejection systems, close teamwork with AWACS and friendly warships, and the use of TAG systems. Ironically, the Erinyes heavy fighter – popular among SOC units and heavy fighter squadrons – was not agile enough to stand up to the firepower of UEF gunships, and more than one GTVA ace lost her life in the cockpit of these formerly superior ships.
The GTVA's major advantage was the Balor cannon. Modular, powerful, and intimidating, the Balor became the bread-and-butter weapon of GTVA pilots. The UEF fighter corps grew to fear the Balor intensely. Novice pilots generally lost their life when attacked by Myrmidons or Persei wielding Balors: the oncoming arcs of silver light triggered an instinctive reaction to break and turn away, and the Balor chewed through both shields and UEF armor with ease.
Reclaiming the Beachhead
The 13th's failed assault on Neptune had been intended to secure the area as a staging ground for attacks deeper into the system. However, it became apparent that the element of surprise had been lost, especially when Aurora scouts indicated that the UEF 3rd Fleet (under Calder) was ready to jump to any threatened location immediately. GTVA High Command made the decision to fortify and secure the node and then hold until the disappearance and return of the Orestes and her battle group could be fully explained. Examination of the 14th Battle Group's recorded telemetry immediately put the Security Council into closed emergency session and led to the temporary disappearance of hundreds of analysts and engineering personnel. The full details of what was discovered can still only be speculated at. Squadrons based on the 14th Battle Group (including the 222nd Nightwolves) were dissolved and all surviving crew members were put through rigorous psychological screening. Some of the 14th's ships were no longer available for analysis - the GTC Duke, GTCv Labouchere, and GTL Solace had defected wholesale to the UEF.
Meanwhile, the UEF Fleet Admirals (particularly Calder of Jupiter) agitated for a massive military push against the vulnerable beachhead. The Elders consistently vetoed these requests. The belief amongst the Council members was that the invasion must be motivated by a misunderstanding and that diplomatic contact would be productive. This belief was bolstered by the arrival of thousands of defectors from the 14th Battlegroup. These defectors were extensively debriefed in the months to come, providing the UEF with its first understanding of GTVA beam weapons and tactical doctrine – including the use of tactical meson bombs, which would become critical in the later stages of the war. Several Elders performed lengthy interviews in order to gain an understanding of GTVA history.
The Elders meditated for some time on their findings before producing reports for the UEF public. The picture they drew was chilling.
Earth’s children had ventured out amongst the stars and found only unknowable hostility and infinite hatred. The GTA of old had broken and collapsed, just as it had on Earth.
But unlike the Ubuntu Party, which had been only a minor splinter faction at the time of the Lucifer’s destruction and earned power by popular appeal, the GTVA had been reborn as a primarily economic and political entity, rather than a cultural force. This focus on ‘hard power’ and military defense had left the GTVA vulnerable to internal ideological rifts, first during Reconstruction and then during the turbulent Neo-Terran Front rebellion. The Terran identity had become characterized by militarism and fear, and – as one Elder put it – these were traits that could sustain an army, not a people.
In effect, the GTVA had maintained the trust of its people through the promise of an impenetrable military aegis. The disaster at Capella had shattered this ideal. The fall of Gamma Draconis and Capella was, by all accounts, a military miracle, a masterpiece of defensive play and quick thinking. It was not, as some asserted, a case of hubris or overweening pride: the GTVA had enacted contingency plans in the event of a massive Shivan invasion, and enacted them successfully.
But the GTVA had portrayed itself as the great answer to the Shivans. The public did not listen to the calm and clinical debriefings of the GTVA’s officers. It listened to the eyewitnesses who broke down into fits of dread and anguish when reminded of the shadows that had filled Capella’s skies. This backlash was exacerbated by the difficult aftermath of Capella. The total population of Capella (250 million) was distributed evenly across the GTVA in a smooth and well-run diaspora. But the loss of the Capella system and its node connections had critical economic ramifications. The journey between Vega and Epsilon Pegasi was now a 5-jump trip instead of a simple 2-jump hop, increasing transit time and costs for outlying colonies in Mirfak, Adhara, and Procyon. Small increases in shipping costs, combined with the desperate need for commandeered civilian ships to help move and resupply the Capella refugees, led to a massive economic collapse that began in the outer systems but eventually shook the entire Terran half of the GTVA. The shipping troubles were only one cause - a general atmosphere of fear and insularity after Capella also contributed.
The hardest hit were the newest colonies and their vulnerable ecosystems. With shipping schedules, population sizes, and consistent offworldassistance disrupted, carefully balanced planetary ecologies broke down. At least two worlds were downgraded to ‘marginally habitable’ by massive ecosystem collapse: plankton die-offs, algae blooms, catastrophic crop failures, and worse. The citizens of these worlds had to be relocated in turn, leading to a chain-reaction economic and environmental crisis. Only Vasudan intervention prevented further disaster, but this came at its own price: massive debt amongst Terran worlds and widespread resentment at continued Vasudan prosperity.
Insurgencies in outlying systems, classified encounters, and corporate rebellions sparked a series of brush wars. The GTVA needed an ideological center to win the hearts and minds of its teetering citizens. Before his death, Admiral Petrarch provided this center: a return to Earth. Instead of Neo-Terra, the GTVA would earn the genuine article.This promise sustained the Terran elements of the GTVA for eighteen years, until the completion of Centaur Station and the Sol gate.
However, this came at the cost of an increasing break with the Vasudans. By the time of Centaur Station’s commissioning ceremony, the Terran and Vasudan elements of the Security Council and High Command were barely in communication, President Demitri Toqueville was only marginally recognized by the Vasudan government, and diplomatic relations were frosty.
It was in this atmosphere of tension that the first probes into Sol were sent. GTVA High Command (or, more specifically, the Terran strategic elements) had drafted a set of contingency plans to deal with possible conditions on the far side of the portal. Contact by STL probe and transmission had been attempted but largely failed due to technical issues.
Initial probes confirmed one of the GTVA’s more drastic fears: Sol had been overrun and completely amalgamated by a radical religious ideology called Ubuntu. This new party had completely removed the old GTA power structure, de-unified the three major colonies (Earth, Mars, and Jupiter), deprecated the military , decentralized the government, and left Sol completely vulnerable to Shivan incursion.
Furthermore, the appeal of the Ubuntu ideology was so great that GTVA sociopsychologists predicted massive conversion amongst a populace already yearning to abandon failed colony worlds and emigrate to Earth. The military might of the GTVA would be brought down by ideology once more.
Under the guidance of President Toqueville, as advised by a panel of psychohistorians and sociopsychologists, the Security Council elected to enact its most severe contingency: the invasion of Sol. This contingency was hotly debated but ultimately selected for several reasons:
- It would bring Sol into the GTVA and secure its tremendous industrial base for the preservation and re-establishment of the colonies.
- It would shatter Sol’s obsolete militaries while largely preserving its manpower and industries to use in defense against the Shivans.
- It would unseat the Ubuntu regime and return legitimate GTVA authority to the system. Many members of the Sol population had been alive during earlier GTA rule and would, it was judged, welcome the return of their original state. Moreover, probes suggested there were dissident elements in the Kuiper fringe who might be receptive to assistance.
- It would create a hostile outgroup for the GTVA’s Terran population to unify against.
- There were hints of a major project underway in Sol space which might serve as a weapon against the GTVA.
The ethical implications of this plan were considerable, but the Security Council believed that the alternative was the disintegration of the GTVA, its replacement by a non-militaristic Ubuntu government, and the massive centralization of the human population in Sol, leaving the fringe worlds vulnerable to the inevitable third incursion.
Vasudan elements of the Security Council were never consulted, but it is believed Khonsu II became aware of the plan shortly before its execution.
The Great Umbilical
The failure of the GTVA forces to make immediate headway into Sol (or, in fact, to do so for the next several months) must be placed into context. Admiral Bei had been hand-picked to lead the beachhead, and his defection left the plan without a leader. The High Command instantly recognized that the entire GTVA OrBat and plan of attack had been compromised by Bei’s defection. In order to prevent massive losses, the interim commander, Admiral Cyrus Severanti, elected to pursue an extremely conservative plan of attack in which fortification of the node would be paramount.
It would be months before a second assault on Neptune would begin. These months were marked by moderate-intensity warfare that saw the devastation of outlying infrastructure around Sol and the destruction of most of the regional defense militias not placed under the Jovian Third Fleet’s jurisdiction. The UEF's extensive network of subspace tracking platforms was severely degraded, allowing GTVA forces greater strategic freedom.
In spite of this long break, the UEF was not able to prepare a military response, and the Council of Elders elected to pursue diplomatic avenues instead. Some high-level talks did occur, in which the GTVA outlined its demands:
- The immediate surrender of the Ubuntu Party and its non-elected leaders, the Council of Elder.
- The liberation of GTA citizens in Sol (meaning all Terrans) and their repatriation to GTVA citizenship.
- The accession of Sol to the GTVA by ratification of the Beta Aquilae Convention and submission to the will of the Security Council, General Assembly, and High Command.
- The immediate end of the isolationist and antimilitary policies that had placed Sol’s defense in critical jeopardy.
These demands were met with bewildered refusal.
In the meantime, the GTVA built up forces at the node, establishing a ‘great umbilical’ that would supply further pushes into the Sol system. Facing a military infrastructure and population base nearly comparable to their own, the GTVA relied on its superior tactical capabilities and experienced officer base to gain abilities. The critical need, however, was for Anemoi logistics ships to permit extended operations away from the node. In a strategic environment defined by the instantaneous nature of subspace travel, it was vital that GTVA assets be decentralized and new beachheads be established.
When the assault on Neptune came, it was not because Neptune was geographically distant from the major colonies – subspace made this irrelevant. It was because Admiral Severanti judged that the UEF would not commit resources to the defense of such a sparsely populated and unimportant location. The primary objective of the GTVA forces was the capture of the Neptune fuel infrastructure to supplement their flight operations, giving them logistics to support another destroyer in Sol.
Severanti was correct. The attempted defense of Neptune was perfunctory and ineffectual. Admiral Calder was, by this point, in a state of near-constant rage with the Council of Elders, and went so far as to comment that the GTA’s final demand should very well be instituted.
The battle of Neptune was a preliminary engagement but it was still a significant one. However, it led into an even more startling event – a high-risk, deep-cover SOC operation that brought the war home to the UEF.
The Council of Elders
The Council of Elders is the non-elected executive body of the United Earth Federation. It does not interfere with the daily or even yearly business of government, nor with the workings of the judiciary. Instead, the Council sets long-term directives for the Federation, serving as a strategic steering committee on the scale of decades or even centuries.
The members of the Council are philosophers, artists, scholars, scientists, politicans, spies, businessman, and more. Sophisticated treatments have kept many of these individuals alive well beyond the average Terran lifespan, originally leading to the nickname 'Elder'.
The Elders are responsible for the original formation of the Ubuntu party, as well as the genesis of its advanced simulation programs, used to forecast the outcomes of economic, political and cultural decisions. Access to these programs has guaranteed Ubuntu Party success for the past several decades.
Privately, many of the Elders endorse a form of philosophical near-mysticism not dissimilar to some Vasudan beliefs. Some claim to be in contact with advanced alien beings by means of an unknown method of communication.
The Fedayeen are a secretive order of paramilitary operatives that may have been formed at some point during the Isolation. Alternatively, they may have emerged from a longer period of quiescence. Vasudan survivors of the Lucifer attack force are rumored to have vanished into their ranks shortly after the Ubuntu Party rose to power.
The Fedayeen may have been implicated in a number of violent direct actions during the Federation's reign in Sol, ranging from kidnappings to assassinations to actual spaceborne engagements with Kuiper Belt fringe elements. It is unclear whether the Council of Elders ordered these actions, or whether the Fedayeen operate on their own discretion without outside supervision. It is noteworthy that no hard evidence exists to directly connect the Fedayeen in any of these incidents, or even to substantiate their existence.
Whatever the case, the Fedayeen appear to be talented, disciplined, and extremely loyal, with access to significant resources and a vast intelligence network.
Admiral Anita Lopez
Name: Anita Lopez
Education: Tertiary. Studied Military Science at 4th GTVA Officer Academy: Capella. Graduated Dux of Class number 2029 on 20/09/2352.
Rank: Admiral. Promotion timeline unknown. Believed to have been marked for Fast-Track Promotion upon completion of Tertiary Education.
Alliance Occupational Specialty: Principle Warfare Officer (AOS-1a.)
Postings: Operations Room: GTC Trafalgar (2352-2357), Deputy Executive Officer: GTD Messana (2357-2360), Executive Officer: GTC Fortune (2360-2366), Executive Officer: GTD Carthage (2366-2367), Division Commander: 2nd GTVA Officer Academy: Delta Serpentis (2367-2372), Commanding Officer: GTD Carthage (2372-Present).
Performance Evaluation (comment excerpt): submitted by Lieutenant Commander Knight- CO GTC Fortune: ...Lopez is a brilliant tactician, bringing to bear full firepower of the Fenris through effective leadership in the Operations Room. A hallmark of Lopez's leadership is the rapport fostered among all Operations Room personnel. Lopez is greatly respected among all Officers aboard the Fortune... Submitted by Admiral Christie - CO GTD Carthage:...[Lopez]is a loyal Executive, mature and diligent in her duties. Her positive attitude towards crew welfare, not only towards the members of the Carthage, is respected greatly by the entire Operations Room staff...
Decorations: Allied Defence Citation. (2366) Capella Incursion Campaign Star. (2367) Nebula Campaign Victory Star. (2367) NTF Campaign Victory Star (2367). GTVA Legion of Honor (2367), Citation Excerpt: Captain Anita Lopez, Galactic Terran Vasudan Alliance, distinguished herself by actions above and beyond the call of duty, on October 7th, 2367, while serving as Acting Commanding Officer of the GTD Carthage, GTVA Third Fleet, during the Nebula Campaign. Captain Lopez used the Carthage as a base of fire at the Knossos Jump Node, in the nebula, while subjected to heavy Beam Fire and anti-capital ship warheads from large numbers of Shivan craft. While providing overwatch for the mass exodus of Alliance Forces from the Nebula, Captain Lopez was notified of orders to withdraw immediately, citing an imminent Shivan Incursion. Aware that more ships were attempting to rendezvous at the Knossos Portal, Captain Lopez maintained her position for a further eighty-five minutes, during which the Carthage and her Fighters and Bombers were able to repel wave after wave of Shivan attackers, including ships corvette class and above. Captain Lopez's actions saved the lives of over a thousand men and women of the Alliance, upholding great credit to herself, her crew...
Conclusion: One can draw from the information presented that Admiral Lopez is a capable Officer, loyal to those under her Command while possessing the tactical aptitude necessary to coordinate her Command in an effective manner. From this conclusion, it is clear Admiral Lopez and all ships under her Command are a significant threat to the Federation in whichever fashion they are deployed. Discretion should be exercised when engaging the Admiral, because of both her inherent ability, and her extensive combat experience.
Admiral Cyrus Severanti
Education: Tertiary. Studied Political Science at Halkins University (Beta Aquilae). Graduated in Class number 1 on 05/17/2357 with the Security Council Sword of Honour for Leadership from the GTVA 1st Officer Training School. GTVA Space Command and Staff College 2369 to complete Staff Course - 009a. Attended GTVA Space War College to complete Master of Strategic Studies in 2374.
Rank: Admiral. Was fast-tracked after distinguished service during the NTF campaign.
Alliance Occupational Specialty: Principle Warfare Officer (AOS-1a).
Postings: Third Fleet: GTC Fortune - Anti Ship Warfare Officer (2357-2360), GTC Heisenberg - Executive Officer (2360-2363), GTVA Junior Warfare Application Course: Ribos - Instructor (2363-2366), GTCv Steadfast - Commanding Officer (2366-2369), GTD Messana - Commanding Officer (2370-2373), 2nd Fleet HQ: Director of Space Warfare (2375-2378), GTVA 1st Officer Training School - Commandant (2379-2383), Commanding Officer - GTD Meridian (2383-Present), Commander - GTVA 13th Battlegroup (2383-Present).
Performance Evaluation (comment excerpt): Submitted by Admiral West - Commander GTVA 6th Fleet: ...[Severanti] is a dedicated officer of the Alliance, and a loyal Corvette Captain. Consistently following orders and often maintaining his position under adverse conditions, Severanti is a model officer of Sixth Fleet.
Decorations: NTF Campaign Victory Star (2366)
Epsilon Pegasi Liberation Medal (2366)
Order of Galatea (2366). Citation: For heroism, and conspicuous gallantry beyond the call of duty whilst serving as Captain of the GTCv Steadfast, GTVA 6th Fleet, in action against NTF Forces in the battle of Luzon Station, Epsilon Pegasi, on the 4th of April, 2366. Damaged by NTF bomber assaults, and without a fighter screen, Commander Severanti maintained his vessel's position to the port of Luzon Station's exit-pattern, shielding the civilian transports leaving the station from heavy beam fire from the NTF cruisers Nakura and Kiowa, regardless of the risk to his own life and the lives of his crew. The Steadfast returned beam fire, and assisted in staving off a large NTF attack on the station, despite taking heavy damage. As the hull integrity of the Steadfast dropped, Commander Severanti repeatedly declined medical assistance, regardless of the fact he was wounded in the upper arm and back, instead insisting on his presence commanding the vessel. Coordinating a counterattack with the 341st Bomber Squadron, he promptly executed a flanking maneuver and destroyed the Nakura, whilst the 341st forced the Kiowa to withdraw. Commander Severanti's actions saved over five hundred civilians evacuating the station, and many hundreds more aboard Luzon Station, with his fine leadership and strength of character being a lasting inspiration to the men and women under his command.
Allied Defence Citation (2367)
Conclusion: Severanti is both a competent Officer and a loyal servant of the Alliance. Severanti's strategy appears to be conservative, and often typical of the Academy's school of thought, rather than an independent strategy. Whilst a capable officer, reviewing the current positions held by batchmates and former commanding officers of his, the conclusion can be drawn that Severanti's selection for positions of authority, 13th Fleet Commander being one of them, was likely due to his association with present members of the GTVA Security Council and GTVA Space Forces Command than his sheer ability as an officer and manager.
In light of this, however, Severanti's decorations paint him as an officer loyal to his service and to his oath. The Luzon Station action characterizes him as a cool and determined operator under pressure, and thus, Federation Officers engaging the Admiral should be wary of his demeanor and avoid placing a likelihood of failure under pressure on Severanti. Rather, exploiting flaws in the GTVA space warfare doctrine should be a primary source of options that should be considered to counter the Admiral in space warfare.
Admiral Chiwitel Steele
Name: Chiwetel Steele.
Education: Tertiary. Studied Bachelor of Battlefield Psychology at 3rd GTVA Officer Academy: Capella. Graduated in Class Number 45 on 5/5/2361. Attended GTVA Space War College to complete Master of Strategic Studies in 2380. Completed an influential treatise regarding the application and design of Allied Destroyers post-Nebula Campaign.
Rank: Admiral. Was fast tracked after exemplary performance during the VEGADEX series of fleet exercises post-Shivan Incursion. Changed occupational specialties in late 2367 after being reclassified Aviation Class: 4 during Operation Astute - 2367.
Alliance Occupational Specialty: Principle Warfare Officer. (AOS-1a)
Postings: 47th Cutthroats - Pilot (2363-2364), 66th Black Knights - Wing Commander (2364-2367), 99th Skulls - Unknown. Presumably pilot (2367-2367) |Undertook Change in Occupational Specialty to AOS-1a| GTCv Bretagne - Executive Officer (2368-2374), GTCv Naxos - Commanding Officer (2375-2379), GTD Aeneas - Executive Officer (2381-2384), GTD Atreus - Commanding Officer (2384-Present), 15th Terran Battlegroup (2384-Present)
Performance Evaluation (Comment Excerpt): Submitted by Admiral Armanjani - Commander GTVA 4th Fleet: [Steele's] highly aggressive and precise nature makes him an interesting corvette skipper within the fleet. He often plays on the psychology of his adversaries, implementing careful ambushes structured around feigned retreats that would earn him the praise of Genghis Khan. The Commodore's aggressive battlefield manner could be attributed to his fighter squadron background, however, he is yet to learn the art of restraint in regards to the pros and cons of overwhelming aggression during the engagement.
NTF Campaign Victory Star (2366)
Epsilon Pegasi Liberation Medal (2366)
Nebula Campaign Victory Star (2367)
Medal of Valor (2367). Citation: Lieutenant Commander Chiwetel Steele distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry, exemplary leadership and determination during Operation Astute, whilst serving as a Wing Commander with the 99th Special Operations Squadron, 23 March 2367. Whilst carrying out interdiction of Shivan supplies along the MSR, Lieutenant Commander Steele's wing encountered heavy Shivan resistance prior to engaging the mission target. Lieutenant Commander Steele maneuvered his wing into a flanking position and eliminated the bulk of Shivan resistance in a charge towards the target convoy. As the 99th engaged the target, Persevering despite tremendous pain from a combat injury, he continued to engage, providing cover for the attacking pilots. Lieutenant Commander Steele's actions saved the lives of the pilots on the sortie, and directly contributed to the success of the mission. Allied Defence Citation (2367)
Conclusion: One of the youngest Fleet Admirals in the GTVA, Admiral Chiwetel Steele is a gifted strategist who appears to both despise and revel in the art of war. Tactical acumen combined with a deep understanding of the human psyche makes Steele a highly successful, if unorthodox commander. Personal contact with the Admiral leaves an impression of a well-spoken, mannered but distant personality, with a cool demeanour that gives many of his colleagues unease.
His command of the Atreus has been controversial, and he is often accused of 'mistaking his ship's subspace maneuverability for that of a fighter'. Though his reputation for insanity may be an uncharitable assessment of his command style, he is well known for pushing his ship and crew beyond GTVA regulation parameters. His crew rotations are 33% more frequent than most other destroyers in the fleet. Last audit suggested an increase in measurable fatigue among officers and crew serving on the Atreus, but with a proportional increase in combat effectiveness.
Admiral Robert Byrne
Name: Robert Byrne.
Education: Tertiary. Obtained Master of Business Administration from Keynes University in 2358. Graduated from Class number 001 from Yue Fei Staff College (Earth) in 2372 with Master of Strategic Studies. Studied the Philosophy of Warfare with Martin Mandho at the Xia University of Earth in 2384 whilst serving on the Federation's military council.
United Earth Occupational Specialty: Principal Action Officer. (OS:1)
Postings: UEC Ark Royal - Operations Room (2359-2363), UEC Tarakan - Executive Officer (2363-2368), UEFg Avalon - Commanding Officer (2372-2376), UEFg Churchill - Commanding Officer (2376-2381), 1st Frigate Flotilla. UEF 1st Fleet - Officer Commanding (2376-2381), UEF Military Council: Space Policy and Warfare (2381-2385), UED Solaris - Commanding Officer (2385-Present), UEF First Fleet - Officer Commanding (2385-Present).
Performance Evaluation (Comment Excerpt): Submitted by Admiral Rajashekar - Officer Commanding of UEF First Fleet: ...Whilst quiet and determined, Lieutenant Commander Byrne exhibits strategic competence of an Officer far beyond his years in exercises such as the INDRA series, maneuvering the Tarakan always to provide maximum fire support to the remainder of the Strike Division. Byrne has consistently held his position in such exercises with vigour, consistently disregarding his own life in favor of others, and resisting the urge to break ranks to mount a counter-attack at risk of leaving his charge open to enemy assault.
Decorations: Commander of the Legion of Merit. (2385)
Officer of the Order of Earth. (2382)
Federation Service Medal with Star of Earth (2374)
Federation Defence Medal (2363)
Federation Cross. (2362)
Conclusion: Admiral Byrne is a commander with the mindset of a philosopher, whose tactical genius is little realised by most even within the Federation itself. Whilst not a battlefield revolutionary, Byrne's management skills shone in the INDRA series of exercises conducted prior to the war, with his ability to dispose the Fleet in a manner in which to allow it to fluidly respond to threats in three dimensions. Byrne's strong integrity and rigid discipline in line with orders is atypical of many officers, as observed during both the INDRA exercises and his conduct during the war. Unwilling to mount a large counter-offensive, Byrne issues and continues to enforce strict standing orders regarding to the defensive posture to be maintained by all Fleets.
Byrne's work with Martin Mandho on the philosophy of war may have been one of the distinguishing factors when selecting Admiral Rajashekar's successor as O.C 1st Fleet, and why he is the incumbent O.C. It can be surmised that his knowledge on the subject played a role in the collaborative strategy devised by himself and the Elders as to the conduct of Federation Fleets during the war.
Admiral Hans Maxwell "H.M." Calder
Name: Hans Maxwell Calder.
Education: Tertiary. Bachelor of Arts (History) from University of Cambridge in 2353. Undertaken under the recommendation of Admiral McIntyre (then Officer Commanding, Jovian Rim Fleet).
United Earth Occupational Specialty: Principle Action Officer. (OS:1)
Postings: GTC Fenris - Gunnery Control (2334-2337), GTC Newman - Executive Officer (2338-2342), Galactic Warfare College: Earth - Instructor (2343-2347), UEC Shizhong - Commanding Officer (2347-2353), Officer Commanding - Fourth Torpedo Strike Division: Jovian Rim Fleet (2347-2353), UEFg Huangtiandang - Executive Officer (2357-2362), UEFg Zhongxing - Commanding Officer (2362-2369), Officer Commanding - FrigRon Alpha (2362-2369), United Earth Fleet Forces Command - Staff (2370-2375), UED Toutatis - Commanding Officer (2376-Present), Officer Commanding: Jovian Rim Fleet (2376-Present).
Performance Evaluation (Comment Excerpt): Submitted by Admiral McIntyre - CINCJRF ...The Commodore's actions during the INDRA series of exercises lend a window into his Manstein-esque strategies. Deploying his force quickly and aggressively, he has consistently compensated for his lack of flank support with overwhelming speed and aggression. Utilizing a combined arms concept, Commodore Calder has successfully engaged superior numbers of cruisers and frigates with the Zhongxing and her FrigRon maneuvering in a 'rolling scissors' to provide mutual fighter and bomber cover as the FrigRon's air complement is deployed in an offensive fashion to provide light support for the frigates.
Distinguished Service Cross (2378) Citation: The Council of Elders takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Hans-Maxwell Calder, Admiral, Jovian Rim Fleet, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against a hostile force in the Kuiper Belt.
Federation Service Medal with Star of Earth (2372)
Officer of the Order of Earth (2368)
Jovian Cross (2360)
Jovian Defence Medal (2353)
Conclusion: The strategic competence of the Admiral is matched only by the ferocity in which he uses his forces in combat, as evidenced by his decorations and performance evaluations. Parallels are often drawn between him and Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. Both exploit the element of surprise, both compensate for lack of flank support and protective screens with overwhelming aggression and surprise, and both are critical of their civilian leadership.
An officer whose military service ranks among the longest in the Federation navy, Calder draws on his experience rather than luck when in contact with Allied forces. Also of note is his multi-service background. It can be concluded that his knowledge of the Allied psyche and his prior leadership training prior to transferring to the Jovian Navy gives him a strategic edge over his pure Federate counterparts. His tactics feature a combination of Terran aggression and Federation combined-arms concepts, it is hoped these strategies will be imparted to the Military Council and then disseminated among the Officer Academies in the near future.
It can be conjectured, that in contrast to his fellow fleet commanders, Calder's promotion was due to his raw skill on the battlefield, rather than any outside factors. His bulldog nature characterizes the rest of his fleet, and the tight ship he runs within it. His aggression combined with his skepticism of the Council of Elders paints the Admiral as a wildcard within the fleets, and an Officer whose sense to rebel may get the better of his experience.
Unknown Device Schematics (major spoilers)
Cursory analysis of these schematics, transmitted from a crippled Vasudan logistics vessel by an unknown high-ranking source and labeled as a 'gift from the enemies of your enemy', suggest it is a design for some form of miniaturized quantum pulse transmissiter. Accompanying the schematic is a vast and enigmatic database of what appear to be signals in an extraordinarily complex and information-dense code. Computer analysis reveals no recognizable coherent grammatical structure to these codes, and any extended contemplation of their meaning seems to trigger fatigue, anxiety, headaches and audiovisual hallucinations of a disturbing nature.
Shivan behaviour (Narayana textures)
Hidden in Esarai's remake of the UEFg Narayana is some text about Shivan Behaviour and Steele tactics.
There is no question that Shivan tactical behaviour is often poorly optimized. The local structure absorbs losses that could otherwise be deflected, applies force to surfaces instead of gaps, and deploys weapons and craft which the perform well below the parameters that their engineering is capable of. Witness the primary weapons on Shivan fighters, which could outstrip the Kayser special issue weapon in every aspect yet consistently do not; or the enhanced performance of the Mara fighters that SOC captured during the second incursion. We raise these points in light of successes of our colleague and respected friend, Admiral Chiwetel Steele in combat with the Federation in Sol. It is our contention that his tactics, often compared to that of the Shivans, are in fact their antithesis and that widespread adpotion of his doctrines could doom any warfighting effort against a notional third incursion.
Shivan behaviour is not locally optimized. We advance the notion that it is instead globally optimized: globally optimized for the task of not winning battles but of destroying entire species, empires far vaster than we, the Alliance, could achieve in the next thousand years. Admiral Steele's success relies on honing a specific set of tactics aimed directly at an enemy's weakness, exploiting superior information and denying the enemy knowledge of his own movements and plans. The Shivans, conversely, are adapted to fight and win a very different scenario: engaging a foe capable of simulating all possible outcomes, with perfect information on Shivan capabilities, and with the Shivans possessing no such advantage. Like a cancer or an immunity plague, the Shivans seek to diversify their strategies, to present as many different vectors of attacks as possible and allow the enemy, through their responses, to select those which they fear the most and those which will do the most harm.
To use a metaphor from an old story - Steele is Batman, with a single linear plan; but the Shivans are the Joker, or an entire Hive of Jokers, enacting madness in every direction - wasteful locally, but globally impossible to counter, for any adaptation to one strategy simply renders the defender vulnerable to the next...
They are godslayers, built as an infinitely broad and deep reactive organism, converting all losses into information and then to ultimate victory. They begin, intentionally, from nothing, free of all exploitable preconceptions; to attack them is to teach them.