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LeperColony December 7th, 2011 12:37 AM

An Old Alternate MT Scenario
Years ago on the TML it was briefly the fashion to post your own MT and post-MT scenario detailing how things could have happened. I remember reading Larsen Whipsnade's Wounded Colossus and being inspired to copy it. Unfortunately I never finished it, but here's what I had. It might be amusing to read.

Guys, this is my take on the Rebellion, all the way to the Collapse. There are two versions, one covers an era where Strephon lives, and the other where, well, he doesn’t. Special thanks to Larsen Whipsnade, Bruce Johnson, and Rupert Boleyn. Maybe someone on the list can come up with a snappy name for the thread, like Wounded Colossus or something. I’ll start with the line that has Strephon survive.

132-1116 Sees the assassination attempt by Dulinor. After the Archduke has left, Ilelish Imperial Guard units barricade themselves in the palace. Lucan, seizing his opportunity, murders Varian. Windhook flees off world. Chaos spreads as Household Calvary and Artillery units begin deployment around the palace. Jump-6 couriers depart for the Spinward Marches, Vland, Antares, and Terra. Shortly thereafter, travel is suspended to and from Capital.

133-1116 Tranian, Archduke of Gateway, is summoned to the Imperial Command Reservation. The ICR is an extensive underground facility located beneath the floating palace. Most of the complex is used to store Household Calvary and Artillery vehicles, but a secret partition holds the cloning banks. Upon his arrival, Tranian is briefed by Strephon’s Moot liaison, Baron Mei Jin. Moot liaison had been a dead office for centuries, and by 1116 had devolved to merely another title on a planet full of them. However, Mei was vested with near unlimited clearance, allowing him access to a special Imperial Warrant stored in the ICR, to be used only in circumstances of Premature Succession, the euphemism for public clone deaths. Faced with a legitimate Imperial Warrant, a taped holovid of Strephon explaining the existence of the clones and expecting loyalty from his true nobles, and extra emperors, Mei was able to convince Tranian that the real emperor remained alive and well. Securing the Archduke’s cooperation, one of the clones is removed from stasis.

134-1116 The throne room is stormed by Imperial Guards, where the body of Strephon is secreted away during the fighting by Sylean Rangers under strict orders from Tranian. Engagements continue in other parts of the palace, but loyalist forces have the situation pretty much under control. Meanwhile the living clone is surgically altered with a wound consistent with that suffered by the first clone, severe but survivable.

135-1116 The palace is secured, and order has been restored on the planet. Travel is resumed to and from Capital. Strephon appears on the media outlets, proclaiming Dulinor a traitor. Jump-6 couriers are dispatched once again. Lucan is held under suspicion of murder, pending further investigation.

Strephon learns about “his” assassination on 181-1116. Stunned by the news, his advisors plot a course for Usdiki. However, by 188-1116 Strephon has regained composure and orders the ship to Capital, arriving by 235-1116. Once back on scene, he begins the marshalling of fleet resources. Core, Forenast, Diaspora, and Massila sector fleets are ordered to the trailing subsectors of Zarushagar. Strephon, overruling his advisors, travels at the head of Core Fleet. With Lucan arrested for murder and Tranian set to return to his territory, Margaret is summoned to Capital. As Strephon’s fleet proceeds towards Ilelish, mobilization orders for 8 fleets from Vland, Lishun, and Antares arrive. Brzk is quick to respond, but Ishuggi vacillates, with the consequence that the three detachments arrive at Depot/Zarushagar, the Imperial rendezvous point, at the same time, near the end of 1117.

Dulinor, arriving at his residence on 244-1116, has long prepared for this day. Ilelish fleet, as well as several fleets from Gushemege, Zarushagar, and Dagudashaag declare for the rebel Archduke. Dulinor has already placed his men in all the critical positions in Ilelish sector, and had planned to consolidate his holdings in rimward Gushmege, before setting out against whoever it was that held Capital. When, late in 1116, he learned of Strephon’s survival, everything changed. He had been counting on chaos and infighting, not a strong and unified response. The campaign to take Capital was placed on hold, his fleets instead settling into defensive positions. It was hoped that perhaps the capture of Ilelish could be made so costly that the Emperor would be willing to come to favorable terms.

On the Solomani Rim, the news of the Emperor’s death was received with glee. Rioting broke out on Terra and across the Rim. The news reaches Home on 001-1117, setting into motion the planned invasion of the Imperium. As news continued to filter in, the Solomani command decided to continue despite Strephon’s survival. There were some that feared an external threat might take precedence over the domestic dispute, but the plan continued nonetheless. By late 1117, Solomani fleets had struck into the Solomani Rim, Old Expanses, and Daibei. The fighting continues along the lines, with mixed results. The Solomani have the most success in the Old Expanses, where incompetence and even treason among the sector nobility offset the Imperial fleet strength. By mid 1118, the 4 rimward subsectors have completely surrendered. Constantly receiving conflicting orders, the Old Expanses fleet finds itself fighting individually rather than as a collective unit.

Norris, learning of Strephon’s assassination on 328-1116, takes the rank of Archduke the next day. When, on 331-1116, it becomes known that Strephon has survived, Norris sends a delegation to Capital explaining his action. Meanwhile, the Zhodani react to Norris’ elevation with dismay. It is thought that creating a clearer chain of command among the local nobility increases the threat they present. And, the Joes still recall Norris’ performance during the Fifth Frontier War. Rather than suffer this threat, the Zhodani prepare to embark upon another Frontier War, in the hopes of catching the Imperium off balance. However, the Consulate Navy had still not fully recovered from the last war. So, rather than begin with an attack on the Imperium itself, the Zhodani helped the Sword Worlds begin a campaign to recover the Border Worlds, as well as an attack on the Darrians. By mid 1118, Consulate backed Sword Worlds forces managed to overrun the Border Worlds, and had made slow inroads on the Darrians. When Imperial forces finally stirred themselves to reestablish the Border Worlds, Zhodani and Vargr ships struck the border.
By the end of 1117/ early 1118, Strephon has assembled his fleet at Depot/Zarushagar. It is here he becomes aware of the attacks on the Solomani Rim and the Spinward Marches. The loyal fleet holds numerical superiority over the defenders, so the Emperor decides to crush Dulinor first. Once Ilelish has been secured, the combined fleet will move out to reinforce the Domain of Sol. Because the fleet assets were drawn from insulated sectors, it is believed that each front will remain relatively stable until the usurper can be dealt with. Nevertheless, the two foreign invaders do force the Imperial fleet to change their strategies. Rather than a slow, practiced campaign similar to the first Ilelish revolt, the need for the ships on the frontiers convinces the Emperor to wage a more vigorous offensive. Spinward Zarushagar and trailing Ilelish become the primary battlefields in 1118/1119.

LeperColony December 7th, 2011 12:38 AM


Dulinor, for his part, lacks the fleet strength to wage counter offenses. By relying on reserve and planetary forces to help offset his numerical deficiency, he was forced to surrender the strategic initiative. Instead, Dulinor began to wage a war of commerce raids and deep strikes, designed to destroy the assets that will allow fleets to move across the Zarushagar sector.

On the Rim, matters continue to degrade. Without the strategic reserve of ships from Diaspora, the rimward sectors are forced to fight on their own. Cowardice and incompetence had led to the collapse of the Old Expanses. The sector began to descend into a no man’s land. Imperial fleets in the region began to act independent of their civil command authority, defending the Old Expanses despite the nobility. However, scattered and isolated, Imperial forces were no matched for the massed Solomani units. In response, the Imperial fleets resorted to commerce raiding and deep strikes on command and control centers, forcing the Solomani to dedicate an increasing number of ships to consolidation over worlds whose nobles had already surrendered. Unfortunately, the nature of commerce raiding forces formations to scatter. As a result, due to battle losses, attrition, and even some out right treason, the Old Expanses fleets began to melt away. Daibei and the Solomani Rim both faired better against the Confederate offensive. Adair was able to link up with the Vegans, and maintained a viable front all through 1118 and 1119.

In the Spinward Marches, Archduke Norris’ situation was turning more serious by the week. By 1118, Strephon had accepted Norris’ self-promotion. With his title confirmed, Norris took personal command for the war. Fast reaction plans called for the mobilization of Deneb fleet, to counter Zhodani advances in the Spinward Marches and Trojan Reach. Though Imperial fleets had been pushed out of the Jewell and Regina subsectors, Consulate advances were half hearted seeming to have been stopped by late 1118. The addition of Deneb fleet signaled a renewed counter offensive with the aim of liberating Efate. In reality, Zhodani forces swept through Trojan Reach sector, into Rhylanor and Trin’s Veil, as well as the rimward subsectors of Deneb.

At Capital, reports continued to file in. With the Emperor at the Ilelish front, direction of the war fell primarily to the admiralty. This would have occurred at any rate. The difference was that the remaining nobles began to balk at the assignment of their fleets to the fronts. Without a clear-cut authority, every decision experienced additional lag time. When news of the attack on Rhylanor and Trin’s Veil reached Capital, it was decided to release Corridor fleet to deal with the Zhodani. Strephon’s reemphasis of the domains inserted the Archduke into the chain of command through which orders must flow. When faced with the command to release Corridor fleet, Ishuggi stalled, delayed, and then finally refused. When news of this finally reached Corridor fleet command, in mid 1120, the fleet tore itself apart. Corridor’s Sector Admiral, along with 9 of the 16 fleets departed for the Spinward front, while the other 7 remained under the command of Ishuggi’s men. Disobeying a deployment order can have only one meaning, so Capital ordered Archduke Brzk to suppress Ishuggi. Brzk began to assemble his fleets, reinforced by Ley sector to help replace those ships that had gone to Zarushagar with Strephon in 1117.

By 1120, Strephon’s campaign against Dulinor began to meet with real successes. Though his initial advance was slowed through the resource-deprived sections of Zarushagar, Dulinor was unwilling to use the same tactics in Ilelish itself. Aided by a few timely defections, the Imperial fleet cut deep into the sector, reaching Ilelish subsector. There, Imperial forces amassed preparing for a campaign reminiscent of the Terran invasion.

From Dlan, Dulinor continued to broadcast defiant messages vowing to fight to the last. These had all been pre-recorded, the real Dulinor and the remaining Ilelish fleet still answerable to him retreating into the Verge sector. The Archduke’s assets had suffered terribly over the last four years. Finally, as Strephon reached Ilelish sector itself, several opportunistic nobles proclaimed the Imperial fleet as liberators, and were only too happy to show their loyalty by turning against Dulinor. Using the time Dlan’s resistance purchased, Dulinor intended to draw a new fleet from the Verge reserve squadrons. This new force might be able to catch the Imperial fleet off guard. With luck, he might even get a chance to engage Strephon himself.

As Brzk finished mobilization, Imperial fleets squared off with the Vilani in Spinward Lishun. The engagements were small and sporadic. Brzk’s attempts to draw the Vilani into a decisive engagement proved fruitless. Carefully orchestrated deep penetration raids, flanking maneuvers, and retreats kept Vland’s fleets always out of reach. With Corridor’s 7 fleets supporting Ishuggi, Brzk requested reinforcements before a drive towards Vland itself. Gushemege and Dagudashaag were each tapped for several fleets, but local nobles stalled and vacillated while claiming their compliance. Strephon was known to refer to these two sectors as “Kentucky and Missouri,” though nobody understood the reference. For Ishuggi’s part, a Dulinor victory (unlikely as it increasingly seemed) would permit a new Ziru Sirka, while if Strephon emerged triumphant, the Vilani Archduke could meekly slip back into the Imperial fold. In either case, he saw little reason to move his fleets to the Spinward front.

The departure of Corridor fleet prompted panic among the local nobility. The reserve fleets, if acting in coordination, were more than capable of protecting the sector from the obsolete and poorly led Vargr vessels. Unfortunately, the local nobles kept the reserve fleets roped around their own specific fiefs, surrendering the sector to the corsair. Small islands of civilization remained where the reserve fleets stayed, or where the local world’s planetary navy proved strong enough to defend the system. The Vargr were quick enough to take advantage of this arrangement, pillaging the undefended worlds and bickering amongst themselves over the spoils.

In the Spinward Marches, the situation became increasingly grim. The fall of Rhylanor in mid 1120 allowed Zhodani forces to catch and destroy several Corridor fleets early in the next year. The remaining forces from Corridor, deviating from their original course, would not enter the field of combat until mid 1121. Meanwhile, the drive to liberate Efate met with staunch resistance from Zhodani colonial squadrons. Regina subsector was the setting of several major engagements, most inconclusive. As 1120 became 1121, Zhodani forces remained in control of Efate and Allel, but for the most part had been forced back to Jewell subsector. The brightest news from 1120 in the Marches came from the heroic Imperial 208th fleet, which moved up from the five sisters to liberate the Darrian’s and force Sword World forces back to defend their homeworlds.

1120 also saw a general increase in the intensity of Solomani attacks. Confederation estimates predicted an end to the Ilelish affair by the closing weeks of 1122 at the latest. Motivated by this projection, Confed planners hoped to push up to rimward Diaspora. This would allow the Solomani to offer a peace treaty that ceded the coreward sections of the Solomani Rim back to the Imperium, but would have a prewar net affect of as many as 8 subsectors for the Confederation. Adair continued to offer a staunch resistance, and with the Vegan enclave for support, looked unlikely to fold in the near future. A plan was then developed to encircle the Vegan Autonomous Region, bypassing the Solomani Rim front by pouring in through the Old Expanses. Though promising on paper, the concept ran afoul of several Imperial squadrons still operating in the area. Solomani hopes were shattered when the Imperium won a crushing victory at Nicosia/Old Expanses, capturing the naval base with the aid of ingenious irregular personnel (read PCs) and catching the emerging Confederate fleets off guard. Nicosia’s significance as a 57th century Cannae was not lost on hopeful Imperials, sparking a wave of patriotism. Coreward nobles began resisting the Confederation, petitioning aid from the then unengaged fleets in Delphi. However, without Duchess Margaret, the response was scattered and varied. Some fleets crossed the border, a few even going as far as engaging the Solomani. Most, however, chose to sit and wait.

LeperColony December 7th, 2011 12:39 AM

And lastly...

1121 and 1122 bore witness to intense fighting on the Ilelish front, first with the invasion of Dlan itself, then later with the pursuit into Verge. The full-scale assault on a high pop/high tech world is not done lightly, and the Dlan operation had projected casualties in the order of the Terran campaign a century earlier. However, despite a bloody and contested landing, Imperial forces managed a stunning victory largely due to the reluctance on the part of Dlan’s citizenry for armed resistance. The Virasin faith, in its requirement that believers die a non-violent death, hampered the kind of partisan operations witnessed on Earth. By mid 1122, the planet was firmly in loyalist hands. Strephon’s fleet then advanced spinward towards Verge, meeting the Archduke’s forces in the largest naval engagement of the Ilelish campaign. Those remaining under the Archduke’s flag were the most stalwart of his supporters, but also those commanders who had participated in the Zarushagar campaigns. The Emperor had promised harsh penalties for the perpetrators of the resource strikes in the early years of the rebellion. In either case, neither class of people was like to surrender, with the result that the remaining battles were often fought to the last Ilelish vessel. Casualties on both sides were heavy, but especially so among the rebel forces. Finally, on 277-1122, Dulinor was killed while commanding the rear elements of his retreating fleet. The remaining ships surrendered over the rest of the year. On 328-1122, Dulinor’s daughter Isis returned to Dlan, formally surrendering the Ilelish forces. She had in her possession a letter from her father to Strephon, written on 131-1116. Never intended for delivery, it was a stirring and quite eloquent apology, obviously meant much more as an attempt to reconcile the upcoming murder of his friend and supporter with a larger moral objective. Some claimed the letter was a cleverly crafted piece of propaganda, meant to soften an Emperor already well known to anguish over those who had died, even among the rebels, during the course of this rebellion. Whatever the truth of the matter, Strephon confirmed Isis to the title of Duchess of Ilelish, and pardoned her for any actions during the rebellion. (It was known she had served in only a public relations capacity in any case. Isis and Iphigenia had even maintained a warm and public friendship prior to 132-1116)

Through 1121 and 1122 the Vilani front remained relatively static. Despite occasional small engagements, usually in the course of reconnaissance, neither side was willing to give battle. As the news continued to pour in, Ishuggi realized the inevitable result. By 180-1122, he had acquiesced to Imperial demands, preparing his fleets for full mobilization. Though it was known he balked at the demand to place his ships under Brzk, the Vilani Archduke knew he tread on thin ice, and agreed with as much grace as he could muster. Gushemege and Dagudashaag likewise leapt back into line, not only sending their fleets to the Solomani front, but also offered to pay for a significant portion of the Ilelish campaign, and organized sector wide celebrations in honor of Strephon and the Imperium.

1122 was the grimmest year for the Spinward Marches. Zhodani fleets had overrun much of Glisten, Mora, and Trin’s Veil subsectors, even as far as Rhylanor. The combined Imperial fleet, which by 97-1122 included not only most of Spinward Marches and Deneb fleet, but also the remaining Corridor forces were stalled in Regina subsector. Effective coordination by the local Consulate colonial fleet commander and several key Vargr raiders stumped Imperial advances. Though possessing far greater naval assets, Imperial forces constantly guarded against a pincer attack from Rhylanor, and could only reclaim Efate and Allel by the end of the year, managing no significant inroads into Jewell. Following up on its earlier successes, the 208th fleet remained in the Sword Worlds. Easily defeating the returning Sword Worlds fleets, the rest of the year was spending in various suppression roles, while waiting for new orders. Many spinward admirals wanted to take the combined fleet against the Zhodani forces in Rhylanor, but Norris overruled them, saying simply that he had put his bet on Strephon, and wasn’t about to change now. What exactly he meant by this remained unclear until the following year, as Brzk led a massive relief force through Corridor.

In 1122, stalwart efforts by Adair and his Vegan allies forbade the Solomani further advances for yet another year. However, his fleets began to suffer from lack of replacements and even proper maintenance. Confederation raids in the coreward parts of the sector made re-supply difficult. Increasing the Vegan Autonomous Region became an embattled enclave of Imperial strength, and though impressively provisioned for such an occasion, was beginning to show signs of economic strain after five years of war. In the Old Expanses, it was no longer possible to draw an accurate picture of political control. Several smaller polities, propped up by Imperial or Solomani deserters, sprung into a brief existence, only to suffer an ignominious end, often to a larger band of rogues. Meanwhile, small units a single squadron in size or less continued to prowl the sector, loyal to one side or the other, targeting support structures belonging to their enemies. As trade ground to a halt, corsairs and other villains went in search of fresh prey. By early 1123, coreward Alpha Crucis became their new hunting ground. In Daibei, Duke Craig’s forces continued a determined resistance, but were nevertheless forced out of the rimward 4 subsectors. Solomani advances had been slow but constant, and the Imperial situation might have collapsed with one stunning success. Unfortunately for the Confederation, Duke Craig was able to find unexpected help from the Aslan. Significant land grants (including territory not within the pre-war Imperial borders), post war economic considerations, and personal contacts managed to gain the Duke the allegiance of several new Ihatei fleets. Though no match for front line Confederation forces, the Aslan proved a significant disruption on Solomani supply lines.

Part 5

This is the last part of the alternate rebellion line. This one does not end in the Collapse, or contain Virus. However, as I am a TNE fan at heart, there will (someday) be another alternate rebellion line thread that does end in the Collapse.

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