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stnylan

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No worries
 
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Nikolai

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No worries. :) But know that the quality has been top notch from start to where we are now!
 
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RossN

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Hi all. :)

I know it has been a long time since this has been active but I've been very much getting back into Stellaris again. If there is still interest I was thinking about picking things up again and finishing this AAR. Anyone up for it?
 
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Macavity116

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Certainly! It's been a fun ride so far, and I'd love to see more.
 
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Definitely! :)
 
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Part Eighteen: The Yldar-Kobarian War (2358 to 2365)

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battle of Eskmye.jpg


The last assault on the Kobarian stronghold at the Battle of Esmyke in 2358.

Part Eighteen: The Yldar-Kobarian War (2358 to 2365)

There were certainly benefits to working aboard the flagship, Mantar mused to himself as surveyed the crowded junior officer's bar. His blue forked tongue flicked out tasting the air and the intoxicating scents of the room. The Admiral's staff supplied the finest liquor in the fleet and even a midshipman might get to drink more Kamarrian kryl or Orosian sprinx than a captain on a destroyer. The gambling was said to be best here too and though every Yldar vessel made that claim here it might actually be true as Mantar observed dozens of olive uniformed sapients of a score of species wagering piles of credits over card games.

Not that I'd know personally,
Mantar thought to himself as the officers at the nearest triangular table took one look at his azure uniform and subtly moved to block off the available seats. You didn't need to be a mind reader to know what they were thinking and Mantar allowed himself a gloomy smile. He might have been a Psi Officer but did they really think he'd use telepathy to cheat at cards? Not only was that an offence with a harsh punishment it eliminated all the fun of beating them with pure mundane skill; Mantar was good at cards and proud of the fact. Not that he got the chance to play much except with the other Psi Officers.

With a sigh the young Yldar officer put the idea on hold. It looked like another night with a table for one and a bottle of kryl.

~~~~~~


Freeholder Space.jpg


Kobarian space, 2357.

To most foreign observers the Yldar explorations of the Shroud were the stuff of vague rumour at best, with many beyond the borders of the Free Traders and some within entirely unaware of the strange psychic expeditions into the other dimension or the beings found there. Instead it was the very visible war against the Kobarian Freeholds that gripped their attention. The Yldars determination to crush the barbaric pirates would see a clash nearly as bloody as the Great Interstellar War - and see an era finally draw to a close.

The YSN had spent the years since the end of the Great Interstellar War shifting from one stage of 'modernisation' to the next, while remaining roughly the same size. The collapse of the Rothak Fire Tribes as a serious galactic power had deprived the Yldars of their raison d'etre and the grandiose shipbuilding proposals that had once been entertained withered away without ever leaving the computer modelling stage. It has to be said that for some naval officers this period of 'stasis' was as much a boon as a curse. The men and women who had fought the last war had become a culture of their own, one with peppery disagreements such as the eternal destroyers versus battleship feud but still a unit not entirely at home with the rest of the Free Traders. Outsiders who lacked military families could have a hard time breaking in.

It was only as the 'Pseudo-Yldar' surge in the south gathered pace that the Navy underwent serious expansion. A massive shipbuilding programme saw vessels created at a faster pace than ever before. The shipyards at Cevant and Kenn Hijal strained to keep up with new and retrofitted warships. The Board cast their nets wide to hire any experienced spacers and engineers and an influx of fresh recruits entered the fleet. Some of the old guard bristled at the newcomers and Admiral Rhass was forced to quietly intervene in a few cases to restore order.

The other great difficulty in the expanding Navy, besides the rush of new crew and new ships was the 'psionic question'. By the late 2350s almost all Yldars had at least some psychic abilities and many could easily carry on a two way telepathic conversation. With tens of thousands of non-Yldar officers and men serving in the fleet the fact was many Kammarians, Glost-Werheni, Glirrs and so on felt alienated even paranoid over unspoken conversations. Admiral Rhass - himself a gifted telepath - had to navigate a problem that simply hadn't existed during the last war or even for much of the peace. It took much delicate consultation before Rhass issued his 2358 decree banning the use of telepathy outside of emergency measures and specifically designated officers. The move which shocked even the least psychically gifted Yldars was a sharp reminder that the Free Traders where a multi-species society and that the fleet had to adapt if it was to remain an effective fighting force.

Still Rhass knew that psionics were potentially very valuable, which was where those designated officers entered the picture. Each major warship in the Navy was assigned a section of trained PsiCorps personal, given the nominal rank of mid-level officers and explicitly under the command of the captain but otherwise standing outside the conventional Naval structure and keeping much to themselves - even their azure uniforms were different than the standard navy olive. On a lowly corvette there might only be three such Psi Officers while a battleship could contain forty or more.

All Yldars were psionic but the level of power and level of control varied widely and despite the paranoia of some very few Yldars without specialised training could reliably read anything more than the surface thoughts of another being from a distance, and a particularly powerful but untrained telepath would more likely accidently implode the brain of the unfortunate they were trying to read than gain any key information [1]. Psi Officers were full time, trained and skilled operatives, true telepaths and clairvoyants whose duties were getting a read on enemy commanders, sensing for enemy ambushes and various other nasty 'surprises' that might pose a danger to ship and crew. Few were particularly ideological beyond a general sense of patriotism and a surprisingly large number were atheists [2]. They were highly paid professionals in the celebrated Yldar tradition of cool enlightened self-interest not political officers and though very few were popular aboard the vessels they served on, over time some of the mundane crew would warm to the 'spooks' as their timely warnings averted disasters at the last second or their senses detected survivors aboard wrecked ships.



Rhass the Prosperous.jpg


The battleship YSS Rhass the Prosperous, pictured with a flight of strike craft above her at the Battle of Esmyke, 2358.

In the final months of the old war the YSN had completed their first battleship. YSS Yndan the Strong remained a monster who had never fired a shot in anger; even with the pirate activity since the armistice with the Rothak Fire Tribes the powerful vessel was too slow, bulky and expensive to send after lightly armed buccaneers. Against the Kobarians however she would be in her element and the ship suddenly found herself the basis for two more 'half sisters'. The new battleships were the YSS Bemalona the Wise and Rhass the Prosperous. Together the trio would prove their mettle in the ferocious battles against the marauders.

The Yldars had poured over the secrets of the old Kobarian vessels in Yldar service, including the legendary YSS Limpok the Baneful. These century or more old ships were too fragile and underpowered for modern war but they provided valued insights into the barbarians and their tactics. Rhass also devoted much time and effort to researching the late Admiral Kesh na-Solpan and the many reports, interviews and documented insights he had left behind. The long dead old warlord had been a genius no doubt but also a shameless and tireless agent of his own legend and separating the fact from the fantasy in his memoirs would have defeated a lesser mind than Rhass's. In between all the self promotion and the dubious canards were flickers of truth. The living Admiral having distilled the wisdom he could wrote his own views on the Kobarians and made it mandatory reading for his senior officers. There could be no question of fighting this war unprepared.


Kobarian Galleon.jpg


KFS Implar, one of the infamous Kobarian 'galleons'. This powerful warship would be destroyed at the Battle of the Gathri Maelstrom in 2363.

The Kobarian technology tactics at this point lagged behind those of the Golden Monetary Compact but there were still many of them and there were rumours of the capabilities of the immense alien battlecruisers, the so-called 'galleons'. These five mile long behemoths dwarfed even the Yldar battleships and if their technology was no better than their smaller sisters their sheer brute strength and toughness had a force all of their own.

The first clash of the war would come at the Battle of Esmyke in Sixthmonth 2358. It was an exaggeration to say that any of the Kobarian systems were truly known to the Yldars but Esmyke, the easternmost stronghold was the place Kesh na-Solpan had originated in and if his lessons held any use at all would best be proven here. Admiral Rhass led a task force of three battleships, four cruisers, fourteen destroyers and forty corvettes. Even so he was outnumbered by the Kobarians. The battle was a ferocious affair, more brutal than those of the Great Interstellar War. During that clash the opposing ships and crews had played out across an unwritten code of warfare. The Rokathans were seen as the enemy certainly, but also a fellow spacefaring civilisation that fought a mostly clean fight. The same spirit did not apply to wandering barbarians.

After an exhausting day long fight Rhass won. The losses had been heavy with the destruction of the battleship Rhass the Prosperous - a grim omen -, the cruiser Haghonon the Watchful and seven smaller ships. Many other vessels had been badly damaged and Yldar casualties ran into the many thousands. The strike craft, modified small warships carried aboard the battleships suffered bloodily in their first major clash [3]. Still the enemy had been crushed. Even the mighty Kobarian galleon had proven vulnerable to sustained attack in the end.

Esmyke served as the template for a campaign that would last seven long years and see the YSN achieve similar hard fought success at Gathri Maelstrom and Ostiuq. There were reversals and unpleasant surprises along the way including a daring Kobarian counter raid against the Wuae System in 2358 that saw the barbarians raid Untabb's Sanctum herself [4]. Thousands of Navy officers and men died in the effort to drive them back.

Individually the Kobarians were unbelievably fierce foes. But that word was their weakness. As a culture the Kobarians were unable to set aside their feuds even in the face of invasion. Had they managed it they would have hurled Admiral Rhass and his forces back; as it was they fell one by one.

Save for a few of the most xenophile in society the war against the Kobarians proved immensely popular. Almost every spacer had a story to tell first or second hand of an encounter with the arrogant aliens. Strictly speaking the Free Traders did not recognise the Kobarian Freeholds as a 'civilisation' at all in the conventional sense; legally Kobarian craft, unless operating under a mercenary contract, were treated as pirates. The official punishment for pirates operating in Yldar space was the death penalty via the disintegration booth, which was a painless and instantaneous fate compared with the sentences handed down by the Kammarians.

As the war gathered pace and victories mounted a delicate question arose. The Free Traders did not employ slavery, nor did they practice genocide. What then was to be done with the hundreds of thousands of surviving Kobarians? Even as many warriors died in futile attacks against the Yldar fleet a growing number of Kobarians decided to take their chances in open space, fleeing for distant and obscure star systems. Rhass was happy to see these convoys go. Even the risk of the Kobarians rebuilding their power somewhere seemed preferable to destroying the barbarians wholesale. The Yldars could be cold blooded but xenocide had never been there way. Not all of those convoys would completely leave Yldar space either. There were a few merchant princes who decided a cadre of powerful alien bodyguards would be a fine thing and there was a tradition of Kobarian mercenaries after all. A shrewd warrior with a pragmatic nature could find himself surprisingly popular and profitable amongst his erstwhile enemies.



Kobarian Stronghold.jpg


A Kobarian stronghold under attack at the Battle of Ostiua.

For the diehards such a fate was unthinkable and they made their last stand in the Ostiua system in Sixthmoth 2365. Admiral Rhass, his ships repaired and his crews rested and replenished after the earlier battles struck with all his might at the last of the Freeholders. Across a sprawling and exhausting three day battle the Yldars isolated and destroyed the undisciplined barbarians, cutting them to pieces with tactics gained under hard experience. It wasn't bloodless even for the Yldars; three corvettes and a destroyer were lost to enemy fire. The new cruiser YSS Haghonon the Watchful (named for the ship lost at the Battle of Esmyke six and half years before) had the misfortune of drawing the rage of the last Kobarian galleon and blew up under heavy fire, her two thousand six hundred strong crew accounting for more than half the Yldar casualties that day [5].

And then it was over. The last Kobarian habitat was so much floating debris, the last warship a lifeless wreck. The barbarian menace that had been a thorn in the Yldar side for a century was gone. In their place - along with any number of ghost stories about surviving Kobarian ships and hidden marauder bases - was a new frontier on the Yldars doorstep, three surveyed and unclaimed systems. For the merchant princes the elimination of the Freeholders had been a long overdue act of protection and revenge. For the Navy and the Star Marines it had been a hard but worthwhile lesson. And for the explorers it was one last chance to see the unknown and unexplored...



End of the Kobarian Freeholders.jpg


The end of the Kobarian Freeholders, Sixmonth 2365.


Footnotes:

[1] This scenario had led to strict 'codes' about using psionic abilities in civilian life. Admiral Rhass's reforms in many ways made the civilian code official in the Navy.

[2] This may seem surprising but in fact the PsiCorps was something of a haven for old school Yldar materialists; powerful psionics with religious or spiritual philosophical leanings tended to turn to the temples or monasteries instead.

[3] Strike craft were an experimental form of warfare and there were still some concerns over their viability in battle. The Yldar-Kobarian War would prove inconclusive in that particular argument with both sides reading the casualty lists to their own biases.

[4] The actual habitat was too large for the barbarians to attack but it certainly scared many civilians.

[5] The Yldars were not as a rule superstitious but the lose of two ships with the same name in one war led to an unofficial 'retirement' of the
Haghonon the Watchful moniker.
 
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RossN

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Certainly! It's been a fun ride so far, and I'd love to see more.
Definitely! :)
For sure!
Please, do it!
That would be a blast to read :)
You know I can never say "No" to more content from you, Ross :)

Thanks for the kind words gents! :)

As it happened I'd half written this entry back in June but writer's block and just feeling unmotivated preventing me finishing it. I'm glad I kept it though to help me get back into this. :)
 
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Specialist290

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The battleships finally come out to play, and the Kobarians get a much-sought-after reckoning. The butcher's bill was perhaps a bit steep, but better a short and brutal war than a long and brutal one, especially in a case like this.
 
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Finally, the barbarians are gone.
 
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Surt

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"The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father" - PsiCorps
 
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Nikolai

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Macavity116

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The Yldars were not as a rule superstitious but the [loss] of two ships with the same name in one war led to an unofficial 'retirement' of the Haghonon the Watchful moniker.
I imagine the crew of the second Haghonon the Watchful thought they were going to do the name justice with their big, shiny new cruiser.

Now we know that name is cursed.
 
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CrazyJ

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Welcome back, this story is amazing and i am looking forward to seeing where it goes from here
 
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