“From birth to even now, the Grand Spodist Church has doubted us and treated us like children. Well, no more I say, today will be the day we burn their arrogant veil and show them what Eldarisia truly is. We are not a weak nation of zealots, we are an Empire of a strongly united people whose current goal is to save the colonies the GSC abandoned to the horrors of Marko.”
“For too long we have left unattended those fanatics to the north, those who bear the banner of that false god Cuth. Now they seek to bring conflict to our shore. They seek to drive a wedge into the brotherhood of Spode, to divide and destroy this holy fortress of Spode. But they are arrogant, naive, inexperienced. They know not yet the weight of our iron hammer of divine justice. We shall teach them to bear the weight of their sins. May Spode have mercy on their souls, for we will not!”
- - Divine Regent Kasmir IV
At the edge of the Bunsen Galaxy, there lies a small sector largely ignored by the inhabitants of the galaxy. This small sector is the home to the Eldarisian Empire and is a sector with a long history of conflict, strife, war and change. It is a sector filled with nations that are paranoid and afraid of the outside. The name of this sector is Marko, the home of many heroes, villains and the bones of soldiers forever lost on worlds alien to their own.
Yet one war was different and gave the bones of soldiers a proper death on their own worlds, a war fought between a native Marko power and a major Bunsen power from outside Marko. A destructive conflict that shed light on the sector and the people within it. For better or worse, the Marko Colonial War would change the sector and its inhabitants for countless generations to come.
The Blitz in the NorthEdit
The war was sparked by a rather interesting turn of events. Though relations had been deteriorating between the GSC and the Eldarisians for some time before, it was actually the Marko Imperial State of Vixiliana who started it, and it was all because of a lack of supplies.
The MISV had been fighting other Marko natives for some time, the Marko Alliance and the United Crusaders of Marko. Their goal was the domination of their native neighbors. They were proceeding with some success, but their military supply stockpiles were quickly evaporating, and their enemies were beginning to push them back. In an impulsive, last-ditch move before their fate would be sealed, the MISV set their sights upon the Noregada Sovereignty, the Grand Spodist Church colonial sector in Marko, which was lightly defended and unlikely to expect an attack from the MISV. Seeing an opportunity to seize some much needed supplies, the MISV quickly drafted up invasion plans and prepared for a blitz, seeking to grab as much infrastructure as they could before the GSC inevitably retaliated. By April 3rd, 2808, the MISV had finally built up a force large enough to occupy Noregada. The Emperor of the MISV declared war seemingly out of nowhere, and the great red horde swept towards the GSC in masses. Within about a day of the blitz, the MISV had already swept through the outer colonies and were quickly and steadily progressing inward towards the heart of Noregada. With their aggressive blitz tactics, along with the unpreparedness of the GSC defenders, the MISV decimated the colonial defense forces and seized many key military compounds and supply depots in very little time and with very few losses.
With the sudden arrival of the MISV invasion force, Noregadan officials had only just begun sending out desperate distress signals to the central GSC government on Quilyuon by the time the red tide had breached the middle rings of the colonial zone. However, central Church officials did not truly realize the gravity of the situation until Vixilianan forces had cut off military supply lines to the remaining IPN outposts in Noregada, necessitating a mobilization of the main IPN fleets. This, combined with the Iron Pazu'mir Navy's notoriously slow mobilization speed, would mean that substantial military support would not arrive in Noregada until it was far too late to save the colonies from the MISV scouring.
Within a week of the invasion's commencement, most of the key worlds of Noregada had fallen to MISV invasion. The invasion had been a great success - far better than any MISV official had predicted. Remembering what they came for, however, the Emperor of the MISV ordered the occupation forces to empty the captured military supply depots and send all of the scavenged supplies to Imperial forces fighting the Marko Alliance and the Crusaders. By the time IPN fleets arrived in southern Noregada and engaged the MISV occupiers, much of Noregada had been stripped clean of military infrastructure, especially in the northern borderlands where they invasion began. IPN liberation forces also found countless worlds devoid of foodstuffs and with numerous civilians mourning the disappearance of family members and friends, no doubt the result of MISV occupiers stealing food stockpiles and kidnapping civilians to use as front-line cannon fodder against the Marko Alliance and the Crusaders.
After a week of counterattack, the IPN had managed to push back the MISV occupiers back to MISV space. The invasion had ended almost as soon as it began. But the damage was already done, and was clear to see. Almost every military base in Noregada had been stripped bare, and many civilian worlds were on the brink of starvation and had lost significant chunks of their population to MISV impressment. Though the liberation was widely celebrated back in the core GSC territories, the mood was starkly different among those who had endured the invasion themselves. The citizens of Noregada welcomed the IPN liberators with weary expressions and little sense of gratitude; the negligence of the Church government and the sluggishness of the Navy had brought them just as much suffering as the imperialism of the Vixilianans.
Resentment and DissentEdit
Predictably, within days of the liberation, Noregadans were calling for an extended military campaign against the Vixilianans, a counter-invasion of the MISV itself in retaliation for the MISV blitz. Noticing the rising anger and frustration of the Noregadan natives, GSC military officials began coordinating with the IPN to draft plans for an invasion of the MISV. The almost total annihilation of military infrastructure in Noregada would place a handicap on the IPN's ability to stage an invasion of the MISV, and MISV forces would be able to fight with a home field advantage. These presented obstacles to an invasion, but they were not insurmountable for the IPN. However, the final nail in the coffin for the invasion plan was delivered not by military factors, but by political factors.
The Eldarisian Empire had been carefully observing the situation ever since the MISV declared war in the beginning of April, and noticed the calls for invasion by the Noregadans. Realizing that an invasion of the MISV would pose a threat to the already-fragile stability of Marko, as well as a threat to the Eldarisian sphere of influence in Marko, the Eldarisians quickly gathered their Marko allies to prevent the invasion from materializing. The Crusader Alliance and the Republic of New Vixiliana agreed to support the Eldarisians in preventing the GSC counter-invasion, and the Marko Alliance were eventually convinced to join the coalition despite their distrust of the Eldarisians, with the promise that the Eldarisians would not become involved in the war between the Marko Alliance and the MISV. No more than a few days after GSC leadership publicly announced their intentions to prepare for a counter-invasion of the MISV, the Eldarisian-led coalition issued a multilateral statement warning the GSC not to go through with the invasion plan. The coalition cited the threat which such an invasion would pose to the stability of the sector, and voiced their strong disapproval of the GSC's plans.
Faced with the possibility of severe diplomatic penalties for an invasion which central GSC leadership was not enthusiastically supportive of, the GSC acquiesced to the coalition and scrapped their invasion plan. The leaders of the GSC viewed the coalition's declaration with suspicion, viewing it as a power play by the Eldarisians to contain GSC influence in Marko, but with little clear evidence of political manipulation, the GSC had no choice but to back down. The Noregadans, however, did not see a difficult diplomatic impasse for the GSC, and rather saw yet another blatant betrayal by the GSC central leadership.
The beginning of reconstruction efforts rubbed more salt into the wound. Even after the cancellation of the invasion plan, GSC central leadership had ordered Noregadan authorities to place reconstruction priority on military infrastructure, in order to restore Noregada's defensive capabilities in case the MISV attacked again or if any other Marko state decided to attack while Noregada was recovering. This would come at the cost of reconstruction efforts for areas outside of military or industrial zones. While inhabitants of military and industrial worlds were mostly content with the reconstruction, in spite of the cancellation of the counter-invasion, inhabitants of other heavily-populated worlds in Noregada, primarily agricultural and commercial centers, were immensely frustrated. GSC central leadership had made clear their priorities, giving preference to military infrastructure that a vast majority of the native Noregada populace would not benefit from at all. With much of Noregada's civilian industry in shambles and its surviving agriculture struggling to keep the population fed, it was clear to Noregadans that the Church's priorities did not lie with the common people of Noregada.
As April 2808 began to come to a close, the Eldarisians began to sense an opportunity in Noregada. Between the slow civilian recovery, the ineptitude of GSC leadership prior to the liberation effort, and the failure of the IPN to exact "justice" on the MISV, a massive powder keg was brewing underneath Noregada, and it represented a chance for the Eldarisians to shatter GSC influence in Marko for good. The people of Noregada were weary and frustrated, and, if they were nudged in the right direction, they might seek to break ties with the Church entirely. Seeking to act on this, the Eldarisians began to covertly send operatives into Noregada, to begin seeding dissent and bolster the small, but growing secessionist movement. Eldarisian agents worked with pro-secessionist groups in Noregada, gaining their trust and loyalty, and covertly spreading pro-secession propaganda where they could. Starting in the outer northern rim, the area hit hardest by the invasion, the Eldarisian propaganda campaign slowly but surely moved inwards towards the heart of Noregada, where loyalist groups would be the strongest. As the reach of Eldarisian agents expanded, colonial unrest and more vocal dissent followed, giving the pro-secessionists a louder and louder voice and giving the Eldarisian agents more open ears that would listen.
GSC officials began to take notice of the unexpectedly rapid growth of the secession movement, becoming a far greater threat to Noregada's stability than they first thought. Realizing that something needed to be done, GSC representatives began to engage in dialogue with members of the movement, hoping to find some way to satisfy the demands of the Noregadans without risking an actual secession or needing to forcibly subdue the movement with heavy-handed martial law. Neither was a desirable outcome, and any peaceful conclusion that did not involve either would be a good conclusion in the GSC's eyes.
At the same time however, the GSC knew that the movement was growing far too quickly for a homegrown, endemic revolutionary wave; there had to be some foreign hand working its influence. There was little in the way of concrete proof, but the GSC intelligence community already had the Eldarisians at the top of their suspect list. Only the natives of Marko would have anything to truly benefit from splintering Noregada from the Church, and of the limited group of empires who fell in the category "Marko native," only the Eldarisians had the resources to engage in such deep and methodical subterfuge. So, as the GSC government publicly sought accord with the Noregadan revolutionaries, GSC intelligence covertly began counter-intelligence operations in Noregada, hoping to catch the first thread of a paper trail that would lead them to indisputable evidence of Eldarisian interference.
The Eldarisian agents quickly became aware of the increased scrutiny from GSC intelligence. They now had to be much more careful with their movements and actions, knowing that a single slip-up would lead to their cover being blown and would earn Eldarisia nothing except a stream of denouncements and a likely war with the GSC. They also knew that there was a time limit on their stay in Noregada now; the GSC reaching accord with the Noregadans would quickly pull the rug out from underneath the secessionist movement, and the longer they remained in Noregada, the more likely it was for them to end up cornered by GSC counter-intelligence agents. While they had been content to help the movement along at a pace where they could comfortably keep control of the situation, the Eldarisians now needed a bold, sudden action that would tilt the scales irreversibly in their favor. They needed a riot.
Raziona had been a population center in northern Noregada, and it had been heavily scarred by the Vixilian invasion. Even after the expulsion of the occupation forces, Raziona was still a vulnerable world that attracted all manner of unsavory visitors, namely pirates and privateers from around Marko. After weeks of torment from recurring raiders, Raziona finally received a complement of IPN security forces as part of the GSC's campaign to satisfy the needs of the ravaged colonies. However, soldiers need food and shelter as well; the security came at the cost of stretching Raziona's already thin resources. Many Razionans were beginning to think that the safety was not worth the starvation.
To someone looking to start a riot, Raziona was a prime target. The people were hungry and frustrated, and as a bonus, the security forces in place were IPN soldiers who likely had not been trained to deal with civilian unrest in the same way that regular police forces were. The Eldarisian agents suggested Raziona to the revolutionary leaders as the place for a riot that would hopefully further reinforce the narrative of GSC incompetence in Noregada.
On June 24, 2808, the Eldarisian and secessionist agents arrived at Raziona and began to set up the conditions for a perfectly-framed uprising. First and foremost was gathering and coordinating with the secessionist sympathizers of Raziona, to get an idea of the social atmosphere and intel on the organization of the IPN security forces. Though the Razionan secessionists were unsure of the plan, worried about the damage it might cause to their people and cities, the Eldarisians were able to successfully convince that it would advance the cause, and any casualties would not be in vain. As long as they kept all of the cameras focused on the right things, this would be the turning point in the quest for Noregadan independence.
In the late afternoon of July 4, 2808, the secessionists made their move. One of the Razionans began an argument with one of the patrolling IPN soldiers in the main square of Raziona's main city. The argument grew more and more heated until the soldier shoved the protester aside in frustration. This drew the attention of other Razionan citizens in the square, who began to join in with the protester's taunting and yelling. Patrols from other parts of the city were called in to quell the unrest, though this only served to increase the rioters' numbers as curious citizens followed the soldiers into the main square, where the riot was overwhelming the security force and was pushing them into the city streets. Seeing that they now outnumbered the soldiers, the riot began to move in the direction of the main military installations on Raziona, picking up even more citizens who lusted for freedom from their starvation.
The chaos grew worse as the rioters grew in number. Various manners of projectile were thrown by the rioters at the line of IPN soldiers, who were ill-equipped to do much more than hold the line and hope that the rioters would calm down. It was imperative that military personnel not cause direct harm to the civilians they were supposed to be protecting, yet this became increasingly hard to manage as some of the rioters began to go as far grabbing soldiers from the front line and mercilessly beating them until they were rescued by their comrades. With the riot growing uncomfortably close to the military base, the soldiers had to push their line forward back to the main square, where the riot could be more easily contained - but this meant pushing back against a sea of violently angry citizens.
Morale was steadily dropping among the soldiers, and they were beginning to lose their nerve. As the rioters punched and kicked the soldiers who were pushing them back, some of the soldiers punched the rioters back in self-defense. Some even began to prime their weapons, only to be stopped by more cool-headed soldiers who knew that was not an option. As the security lines grew closer and closer to the central square, the numbers of the rioters began to thin, and it seemed as though the long day would finally be at an end for the tired soldiers. This, however, turned out to be a ruse, as rioters emerged from side alleys and attacked the unsuspecting soldiers from their undefended flanks. Soon, the once-orderly lines of soldiers had collapsed into disarray, and the main square was now a chaotic brawl between soldiers and protesters. Confused and cut off from their comrades, some of the soldiers began firing weapons into the crowd, only sowing more fear and anger among the rioters.
With the situation spiraling out of control, the Raziona head of security had to call in reinforcements from neighboring planets. The remaining rioters scattered with the arrival of off-planet relief forces, and by the next morning order had been fully restored to the planet, albeit through declaration of a temporary state of martial law. But by then, the damage had already been done. Six of the protesters lay dead in the streets and dozens more were recovering from injuries in overloaded hospitals, and the survivors' distrust of the military had never been higher. It was exactly the last thing the GSC officials had wanted, and the best possible outcome for the Eldarisians and the secessionists; all throughout July 5, 2808, every news outlet in the galaxy was reporting on the disaster on Raziona. And in Noregada in particular, it was a glimpse of a very likely future for Noregada under the GSC.
A fire had been lit under the powder keg, and it was going to blow up in the GSC's faces.
Terror and freedomEdit
Several days after the Razonia riot, the Eldarisian's began speaking with the secessionists leaders once more and it was quickly agreed upon to use the riot as another factor for gaining popularity for the cause. This proved extremely successful early on as once reluctant citizens began agreeing with the secessionists and joining their cause thanks to the media painting the riot in a pro-secessionist light and because of the GSC's response to the event which was to downplay it. This continued for two weeks before the GSC finally saw the huge growth the secessionist movement had gained in such a short time. The GSC then stopped downplaying the riot in response to this growth and then decided to apologize for their actions at the riot and offer a concession for the people. This however, did not stop the growth with any effectiveness since citizens found the GSC's late response as disrespectful and not whole-hearted. Once again this growth continued until finally the GSC decided to simply just speak with the secessionist leaders and try to come to some conclusion or understanding so they won't try to secede from the GSC. This was not a move that the Eldarisian's expected and the secessionists and GSC officials we're actually getting along quite well during the meeting. So before it could even finish, the Eldarisian's ponder whether or not they should sabotage the meeting before it ended. While technically harming innocents to push the movement was not in mind, it was eventually agreed upon since the Eldarisian's knew the Noregadan's would live must better and honorable lives under their banner and religious beliefs. So before the meeting could come to a final conclusion and finish with satisfaction for both sides, the Eldarisian's planted a bomb within the building both factions had met in and made it detonate before either party could come to an agreement. This sent shockwaves throughout the land and even the Bunsen as a whole. The secessionist leaders and several GSC officials we're killed in the blast in mere seconds and both sides began spiteful campaigns against one another as the Eldarisian's established a new face within the secession movement that would never bend to the GSC's will and lead the Noregadan's into the Eldarisian's hands after independence. This new face would eventually become the leader of the movement and went by the name of Delfonso Esteban. The secessionists would begin pressuring the Noregadan government to hold the referendum while the GSC would begin threatening the colonies with martial law and start labeling individuals associated with the main secessionist movement as terrorists. With pressure coming from the GSC and it's own citizens, the Noregadan Government began clamouring for martial law and branding secessionists as terrorists. But despite this, more and more citizens joined the secessionist movement and pushed for a referendum. Meanwhile, Eldarisia continued to watch on as they kept telling Delfonso to keep up the pressure for a referendum while also sending out secessionists to threaten officials to vote in favor of it. Soon after threatening various officials and getting them to vote in favor of the referendum, it was eventually passed by a small margin which flung the GSC in a total panic over the situation, however, they could not intervene or their disruption of a democratic system would be known. So in a final effort to save their colonies, the GSC began to scramble for evidence that could delegitimize the vote. This did lead to evidence of secessionist members threatening officials, but it was too late since the vote had passed in favor of independence by then. With this great victory for Eldarisia finally arriving, the Eldarisian's celebrated the day the Noregadans declared independence and began formulating their plans for finally absorbing the Noregadan people into Eldarisia. The GSC however, insisted that the referendum was not valid until they had investigated the politicians being threatened. Meanwhile, the secessionists would begin forming a new independent government known as the Independent Republic of Noregada. This new Government would be lead by pro-Eldarisian officials and it's leader would be the one and only Delfonso Esteban. In response to the Noregadans going ahead with their independence, the GSC began threatening military occupation of the republic if it did not submit to GSC authority until the referendum can be validated. Eldarisia quickly learned of this threat and offered the republic protection if they agreed to be integrated into the Empire, which was easily accepted by the newly pro-Eldarisian government. The GSC saw this and finally came to the conclusion that it was the Eldarisian's that was influencing the secessionists. Based on how quickly they had responded to the GSC's threats to the republic, it only made sense alongside all of the other occasions where an obvious third party was involved. So finally the GSC issues an ultimatum that if Eldarisia annexs the republic, that will constitute an act of war on Eldarisia's part. Eldarisia said in response that their simply protecting the sovereignty of the republic from the GSC's iron fist.
Days after the declaration of indepence from the GSC and Eldarisia's statement to annex the Noregadans, the GSC garrisons within Noregadan began moving their forces to independence dominated worlds to gain control over the worlds. However, doing so was not so easy for the garrisons. The newly independent Noregadans now under the flag of the Independent Noregadan republic resisted fiercely as soon as they arrived and formed coordinated and organized militia's to resist their attempts to seize control. Luckily for the GSC garrisons though, they had their own Noregadan citizens that helped their cause. The inner economic worlds of the republic who wished to keep their ties to the GSC had overthrown the independents and declared loyalty to them. Also alongside these two factions are those who had given up hope on the Noregadan state and gone rouge from all, resisting both the Eldarisian's and GSC forces. While all of this occured, the Eldarisian military began moving towards the Noregadans territory and started formulating plans for occupying it and setting up defenses to withstand the GSC's counter-attack. With information on the current nations situation from the newly independent republic, Eldarisia used this advantage to decide on which planets to strike first to eliminate the garrison and where they should coordinate their main occupation campaign.
Within the next few few days, the GSC garrison had eliminated many worlds of their resistance and occupied them to various degrees across the northern border. This was a major blow to Eldarisia's mass-occupation plans and so they began gathering information from the republic to figure out the weakpoints across the border. While the GSC began setting up a defensive line across the borders, Eldarisia finally arrived to the Noregadan borders and began striking the resistance worlds to cut through the growingly sturdy line of defense. In response, the GSC began sending forces to combat Eldarisia's breakthrough and this lightened area's along the defensive line for Eldarisia in several areas. So while concentrating on the main resistance worlds, Eldarisia began assualting the lightened areas of the line to put more pressure on the GSC. This plan proved successful and the Eldarisian's began establishing a foothold in Noregadan and pushing the GSC back until the Levisala arrived with reinforcements for the GSC and helped them push back the Eldarisian's.
Seeing the Marko Colonial War, the Levisala joined forces with the GSC to contain Eldarisia's aggression and to stop another friend or ally of the TIAF from gaining power. So they sent forces to the Marko sector which now have forced the Eldarisian's on the defensive, even making them use their fists of cuth planetary weapons as space platforms to demoralize assualting fleets and destroy major vessels. While doing this, the Eldarisian's began sending reinforcement fleets off into dark space to flank the GSC forces and claim territory in the Noregadan region. To make this successful, the fleets minimized all electrical usage during the trip and we're accompanied by a large number of supply vessels which we're armored and equipped for warfare so supply shortages wouldn't be an issue for a long period of time. Alongside this minimizing of electrical usages, the fleets would have stealth units active just incase of patrols or any other scans being done. So for one and a half days of traveling in dark space and defending against the Levisala forces, the Eldarisian fleets arrived in Noregadan territory. As soon as they arrived, the fleets began occupying planets as they raced for the middle of the northern territory to create a defensive line which would also function as a blockade for reinforcing the GSC defensive line. The fleets which arrived near the upper-middle of the region began carving out territory for more dark space reinforcements and stayed close to the new defensive line to help it against the shocked GSC reinforcements.