Background: Knife Edge`

12 Apr

I started writing this out as background.  Comments welcome.

Course of the War


Mekong forces invade Epsilon, a colony world at the edge of human space. The large majority of the colonists are killed and the remainder taken prisoner. A human long-range scout jumps into the system, realises what is wrong and jumps out again before the aliens can stop it. The war has begun.


Mekong forces obliterate the Thyme asteroid mining colony. There are no known survivors.


Mekong forces bombard Ruth’s World, cracking the atmospheric domes. There are no known survivors.


The scout ship from Epsilon reaches Earth and reports to the UN. A state of emergency is declared by all major powers; the UN Emergency Committee is summoned and ordered to lay plans for joint human operations against this new foe. Almost all human powers agree to join the new alliance. Admiral Yang (China) is placed in command of the Multinational Force. Unsurprisingly, this process doesn’t go very smoothly.


The news gets out on Earth, causing major panic. Luckily, world governments have had time to lay plans for civil unrest and are able to maintain control. Many countries call for an emergency draft, as well as keeping military forces in the solar system.

The Multinational Strategy Board hears from the scoutships that were dispatched to other colonies along the edge of human space. They conclude that the aliens are slicing inward, aiming directly at humanity’s older settlements. New Russia, the main Russian-ethnic world, is determined to be the most likely target. Once New Russia has fallen, the aliens (as yet unidentified) will be in a good position to attack Earth itself and fragment the human race.

Several voices within the UN call for peace talks with the aliens. The MNF CO reluctantly agrees to dispatch diplomatic ships in the hopes of finding a peaceful settlement. However, he cautions that the aliens have shown no interest in talks.


After prolonged diplomatic wrangling, it is decided to dispatch several squadrons from the MNF (mainly American, European and Russian) to New Russia to bolster the defences. In addition, recon ships are also deployed; there is little hard data on the capabilities of the new threat. The Russians insist on naming the CO for the fleet, pointing out that it is their territory,

Reluctantly, they also assert to sending several media representatives along too.


The news has spread across human space, causing considerable panic – and grim resolve. On New Russia, a handful of civilians are evacuated, but the remainder are given weapons and told to hide as best as possible. The Russians move in several additional divisions of troops, reluctantly accepting some SF forces from other powers.

Russian asteroid miners detect hints of alien warships scouting the system. Analysts conclude that the aliens captured a star database from one of the destroyed colonies. The MNF goes on full alert, assuming the worst.


A UN starship enters the Epsilon system, carrying diplomats. The aliens blow her out of space. Unknown to the aliens, a second stealth ship was following the first – and reports that the aliens are clearly landing colonists on Epsilon. There is no contact with the human settlers. The worst is assumed.


News of the response to humanity’s diplomatic probe stiffens resolve at New Russia, as the alien probes grow more blatant.


Alien starships jump into the New Russia system, beginning the Battle of New Russia. Human analysts are relieved, at first, as the aliens do not appear to be that much more advanced than humanity (although they have clearly mastered the art of jumping through flux space in formation, something no human military can boast.) The alien starfighters seem little more advanced than humanity’s best … an illusion that lasts until the aliens lure most of humanity’s CSP out of position. At that point, several new wings of alien starfighters jump through flux space (human starfighters have no jump capability) and savage the MNF.

Caught by surprise, the combined fleet fights as best as it can, but the outcome is inevitable. After losing four carriers, the CO gives the order for the remaining jump-capable ships to retreat, while the damaged ships hold the line as best as they can. The aliens let the surviving human carriers go; without their fighter wings, they’re far less dangerous. Instead, they destroy the remaining fleet and fall on New Russia, wiping out the planet’s defences from orbit. They then start landing troops.


News of the disaster at New Russia reaches Earth – and Admiral Yang is sacked, even though it wasn’t his fault. While Russia calls for an immediate counter-offensive, saner heads prevail, pointing out that the MNF is ill-prepared for launching any sort of offensive. Indeed, the crippling starfighter losses have to be replaced by raw, newly-graduated fliers. Worse, there are suspicions and that not everyone in the MNF fought with equal vigour.

There is panic on the streets, with the population expecting the aliens to be approaching Sol at any moment. Most analysts agree; Earth still possesses most of humanity’s industrial base and its loss would be disastrous. Indeed, fleet units are hastily recalled from other colonies to bolster the defence of Earth, while refitted ships are pressed into service with scratch crews.


After an inexplicable delay, alien forces finally launch their long-dreaded assault on Earth. This time, humanity is ready for their jumping fighters – and has some countermeasures, in the form of jury-rigged antistarfighter frigates. Even so, the aliens come close to breaking up the defence fleet when human reinforcements jump into the combat zone and tip the balance against the aliens. Eventually, the aliens pull back and jump out of the system, conceding defeat.


In the aftermath of the battle, the analysts warn that it may be months, at least, before Earth is ready to launch a full-scale counteroffensive – and besides, very little is actually known about the aliens. They propose a series of raids on alien-held colonies and a set of probe flights out beyond the known galaxy. At least they have a general idea of just which direction the aliens come from.

There is better news; the post-battle assessment teams have located dozens of fragments of alien warships within the Sol System. Once analysied, they believe that humanity may be able to crack the secrets of alien technology.

On New Russia, however, the underground war against the aliens is only heating up. Both sides are turning savage …


USS Enterprise launches a surprise raid on the alien positions over New Russia. The aliens are taken by surprise, allowing the carrier’s strike wing to take out two monitors before the aliens rally and drive the carrier back into interstellar space. However, in the confusion, a network of listening posts was established in the system. Humanity can now start to make contact with the insurgents.

28/05/2238 – 20/06/2238

The war enters a lull as both sides lick their wounds.


Bypassing New Russia – which they believe to be too strongly held to liberate – elements of the MNF launch Operation Reunion, aimed at Epsilon colony. The alien picket force is caught by surprise and swept aside, allowing human forces to land on the planet and recover it from the aliens. Though a combination of orbital bombardment and improved human tactics, a large number of aliens are captured and placed in POW camps. Human sociologists start the long task of trying to understand them.


Irked by the attack on Epsilon, the aliens launch a second attack on Earth. The fighting turns into a meatgrinder, with both sides taking heavy losses, before the aliens retreat for a second time.

Human researchers studying the remains of an alien jump drive start outlining the basics of an in-system FTL communicator (a holy grail, as far as human tech is concerned – and for the aliens too.) Once deployed, humanity should have a significant advantage over the aliens.


Once the alien language was cracked, humans started interrogating the alien POWs intensely. The aliens claim that Epsilon was theirs and that the human settlers landed on the planet without permission. Not all of the analysts believe them, pointing out that the alien leaders might well have lied to their people. However, the UN authorises another peace mission to New Russia.


The diplomatic ship sent to New Russia is fired upon by the aliens – and very lucky to escape with only carbon scoring.


Alien forces return to Epsilon in force, driving the human occupation force away from the planet. Long-range sensors, however, reveal that the aliens butchered their own colonies, rather than trying to free them from the POW camps. Humans watching are shocked – what did the aliens fear?


Human scoutships discover a major alien settlement, just twenty light years from Epsilon. Plans are immediately drawn up to attack it, as it seems likely that it is the staging base for attacks on human space. The world is designated Alien-1.


The reformed MNF jumps out, heading towards Alien-1.


Scoutships reveal that Alien-1 has received additional reinforcements from somewhere else in unexplored space. However, the CO in command of Operation Retribution decides to continue the attack, pointing out that humanity has to knock the aliens back or risk losing the initiative.


Human forces attack Alien-1. After savage fighting, the high orbitals are taken and the planet is deemed secure. However, apart from a handful of KEW strikes, the decision is taken not to attempt to land on Alien-1 itself. Instead, the MNF attacks and captures (or destroys) much of the system’s industrial base.

However, the aliens have settled the system heavily and a prolonged period of space-based insurgency begins.


Word of the battle’s outcome reaches Earth. Humanity is relieved, but the ship losses are deemed alarmingly high. Instead of trying to probe further into alien space, the MNF is ordered to hold position and wait for reinforcements.

21/08/2238 – 27/11/2238

The war stalemates, although human sociologists make progress on unlocking the secrets of the alien society. Their conclusion is that the alien government is rigid, unwilling to accept change – an idea that is mocked by human military officers, who have seen the aliens adapt and innovate under pressure.

In the Sol System, the first FTL communicator net is deployed. Although it has no interstellar range, it offers humanity a definite advantage for in-system fighting.

Furthermore, having learned from the early battles of the war, the MNF starts constructing a whole new series of carriers, starfighters and support craft.


Alien forces surprise humanity by attacking Kennedy, an American-settled world some distance from their angle of attack towards Earth. Eventually, the aliens are beaten off.

29/11/2239 – 03/01/2240

Aliens raid several human worlds, trying to pin and destroy human defences before withdrawing from the system. The UN has political problems dealing with the aftermath of the raids.


Using reports from human scoutships, the MNF hits four alien worlds in quick succession in hopes of knocking the aliens back.


Human researchers hit the jackpot when they finally decipher an alien stellar database, recovered from Alien-1. The aliens are discovered to have a sphere of space nearly twice the size of humanity’s, but with odd internal political divisions. Combined with earlier discoveries, the researchers conclude that the aliens are divided up into nations – or clans. The clans have not properly united to fight the war against Earth. However, this may change.


A large alien fleet jumps into the Britannia System and engages the defenders. This time, analysts are able to identify ships belonging to different alien clans and concentrate their fire accordingly. Eventually, the aliens break off and retreat.


Bolstered by the success at Britannia, the UN authorises yet another peace mission to the newly-located alien homeworld.


Alien forces return to Alien-1, where they discover that human forces have spent the last few months digging into the system. Although the MNF pulls out, the aliens are unable to prevent human ships from rendering the system useless before leaving.


The MNF escorts a peace mission to Alien Prime (their homeworld). The aliens agree to talks, starting with a six-month armistice.

10/04/2240 – 10/08/2240

Human diplomats meet aliens at a neutral system along the border, near Epsilon. The cause of the war is confirmed to be an error; humans settled a system claimed by one of the alien clans, who had been preparing a colony fleet when the humans landed. They assumed that the settlers were their fellow aliens and attacked, only to discover their mistake after they had well and truly started an interstellar war. Most of the human diplomats don’t believe what they’re being told.

However, the UN has been pressured by the demands of war. Most human navies have managed to unite, while much of the bureaucracy has been removed, turning the UN into more of a supranational government than anyone expected. The powers without interstellar colonies fear permanent subordination to powers that do have interstellar colonies and starships making up the MNF. They propose a peace settlement, surrendering Epsilon to the aliens while swapping back the other captured worlds.

This does not please the interstellar powers, who want the aliens to know that they lost the war. (Unknown to the humans, most of the alien clans are happy to surrender Epsilon – after all, it doesn’t belong to them.) They want to keep Epsilon and have a precisely delineated border between the two powers. They present the aliens with an ultimatum – surrender Epsilon or restart the war.


Intent on restarting the war and escaping disgrace, the clan that started the war attacks the peace negotiators in the neutral zone. Surprisingly, the two carriers (one human, one alien) on defence duty manage to work together to beat off the attack, ending the war.


The Treaty of Epsilon is signed, ending the war.

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