FROM THE CRISIS
LESSONS FROM THE CRISIS
'THE KAFER WAR'
1 - The Kafers and the French Arm
Part 1 - The Kafers and the French Arm
In 2295, at the edge of explored space, a French research station orbiting Arcturus, detected an unfamiliar alien ship. Attempts to make contact with the craft failed and it departed the system without incident, its origin and intentions remaining mysterious. Scientific speculation, media reports and some intelligence interest developed from the event, but government and military planners failed to allocate significant resources to further investigate the episode.
Two years later in 2297, the unknown aliens returned to the system, attacked and seized the French research station at Arcturus without any known provocation. In response divided human forces made an inadequate attempt to defend the closest colony world of Aurore in the Eta Bootis system, but failed to challenge the aggressor species.
In 2298 the aliens attacked and invaded the frontier colony of Aurore. Hundreds of thousands were killed, orbital facilities and cities were obliterated. After months of fighting the marauders were eventually driven from the Eta Bootis system with heavy losses to both sides. Several of the alien ships, now generally referred to as Kafers (German for bugs), escaped back past Arcturus, retaining control of that system and its occupied research station.
The Human forces response during the next two years consisted of indifferent probing missions; apathetic attempts to monitor alien ship movements and some limited and indecisive small forces skirmishes occurring in the Arcturus, Aurore and Hochbaden systems. The lack of aggressive hostilities from the humans permitted the various Kafer factions to unite under for one cause; total war with the humans. Human politics and a lack of cooperation denied any opportunity to take the fight into Kafer space and away from the vulnerable human colonies.
In June of 2301 a combined unified Kafer armada invaded the French Arm, bypassed the bulk of the frontier defenders at Aurore, overwhelmed and utterly destroying the virtually undefended Hochbaden system. The invasion and capture of Hochbaden allowed unlimited access to the remainder to the French Arm by the majority of the invading Kafer forces and those being held in Kafer reserve.
After nearly two years of fighting, the Kafer offensive was finally halted at the Battle of Beowulf, but only after millions of humans, including over four million men, woman and children in the Hochbaden system, were killed.
Succinctly put, the First Kafer War was poorly anticipated and the far more destructive Second Kafer War need not have happened. Hostilities could have been contained to the outward stretch of space past Arcturus possibly no further than the Hochbaden system if an aggressive, concerted human response could have occurred. Numerous intelligence mistakes were made, warnings went unheeded, and precautions not implemented. The failure to correctly identify and challenge the Kafer threat can be discussed regarding several basic specifics.
The Human Sphere is roughly 40ly in diameter along several arm and sub-fingers/clusters radiating in all directions from the Core (Sol/Alpha Centauri). Each Arm will have several stars that are gateway systems or chokepoints that all ships must travel. The hub of the French Arm is known as the Beta Canum Cluster where most “Garden” colony worlds had already established for at least 50 years. However, most of the other systems and several fringe “fingers” had yet to be fully explored. The Pentapods' sphere, also know as the DM+27 28217 cluster of 14 or more systems, was declared off limits at Pentapod’s request until a better working relationship could be established. Elsewhere on the edge of the frontier near Eta Bootis (Aurore) the DM+18 2776 “finger”, also known as the Wolf Cluster, of at least 25 systems had just begun to be explored. The Human sphere was overextended and was very vulnerable against an aggressor.
Like the early days of human colonial history on Earth (1400-1800AD) communications were sporadic and irregular at best. In the late 23rd and dawn of the 24th century the widely stretched early colonies and outposts had not yet developed a regular organization of courier/communications ships. Communication was still limited by light speed even if starships are not. Couriers were usually merchants that typically traveled on established regular System-to-System routes. It still takes weeks for communications to reach the Core even using fast couriers, traveling pony-express style, from a frontier world like Aurore. Requests for relief after a disaster or an attack would not be know to other nearby systems for days or even weeks. The Core would not typically get word for over a month regarding events on the frontier.
Ship communications typically consist of vessels rendezvousing less than 60 light seconds from each other usually at a consistant meeting point such as a way station or other orbiting facility. Hard transfers of cargo and personnel take several hours as the ships usually require a place to dock. Open space transfers are rare and somewhat dangerous. The Coordination of fleet and convoy movement is even a greater challenge. Ships leaving at the exact same time and speed from the same location will never arrive in the system in formations and are often millions of miles away from each other and can arrive hours apart. The reason this happens is that even slight differences in only a thousandth of a degree over 7.7 light years can equate to millions of miles away from your target destination and stutterwarps never operate at the same speed due to shifts in mass within the ship during operations. Communication and coordination in-between systems are impossible due to the high speed traveled by the stutterwarp ships. Although most starships will stop halfway between systems to reorient themselves, coordination has never been accomplished due to the inability to arrive in the same location at the same time. Fleet and convoy rendezvous are typically done at a planetary body outer system outside the stutterwarp .01G threshold.
The route between the Core and the Kafer Sphere has three limiting chokepoints that all starships must travel. Those systems are Beowulf, Hochbaden and Arcturus. Beowulf was the gateway to the BCV cluster and is a main shipping way station facility between the Core and the French Arm. Beowulf always has a large military presence and closely monitored interstellar traffic. Hochbaden was heavily colonized, but most of the facilities being scattered on large orbiting factories and other outlining mining facilities scattered in the system. Hochbaden was lightly defended and did not have any permanent warship presence, although German warships visited the system often. Arcturus was the weakest link in the frontier.
Arcturus Station: On the edge of explored space, the system was only occupied by humans for the scientific research of an older Population II star, which is passing through the plane of the galaxy. The Arcturus system is devoid of any planets, but has some very small captured rocky bodies and no usable natural resources so a large research station was placed in the system for the initial purpose of studying Arcturus. Long-term intentions were to use the facility as a way station for ships traveling farther down arm once that region, known as the Serpeniti Cluster, was explored for colonization.
The Kafers first contacted humans by chance. A Kafer ship of unknown design, probably a scout ship, entered the Arcturus system in 2295. The Human research station noted an unanticipated stutterwarp signature breaching the star’s gravity field. The researchers at the station attempted to contact the vessel thinking this was an exploration vessel or a supply ship, which usually arrived at irregular intervals, and was often badly off course. The ship did not attempt to return contact and the Human research station became concerned the ship might be damaged and of need of assistance.
It is estimated that the Kafers were completely unaware of the presence of the station until they received this general communication from the station, and although the Kafers did receive the Human communications from the station they were unable to translate it. In any event, the Kafers would not have understood the transmission as Kafer speech patterns are completely unlike human speech with its heavy vernacular filled dialogue. The Kafer ships conducted passive surveillance of the station and recorded all vocal and visual communications being transmitted from the station.
The Human researchers turned their stations instrumentation toward the unidentified ship to help further assess the situation. Although no unmistakable images were discerned, the researchers did determine that the ship was not of any known Human design and was either an unknown class of Pentapod ship or more excitingly, a new alien species. The ship departed without further contact or incident. Upon the arrival and return of the next supply mission to Arcturus, word of the event spread slowly to the frontier colonies and eventually back to the Core.
The French Union and new German Government were over occupied with their own political differences, exploitations of their colonies, establishing outposts and building alliances with the Pentapods to pay much heed to this vague and by now greatly exaggerated reports of a unknown, unidentified ship passing through the Arcturus system that may or my not have been a new alien species. Any survey ship, courier ship or communication drone deployed to the Arcture station would have provided some level of surveillance and warning to the colony and forces stationed at Aurore. In fact, no significant attempts were made to follow up on the station’s account or monitor the Arcturus system until communication with the station was lost in 2297.
There was no way to determine that the ship discovered entering the Arcturus system in 2295 could have been hostile. No hostile action was taken and no outward signs of hostility were noted, other than not responding to a general hail. The now glaringly missed fact, discounted by nearly every one who read about the event, was that the research station’s report did mention that the unknown ship arrived from and departed toward the outward direction from human space in the direction of the Serpentine cluster.
French intelligence and survey analysts wrongly concluded that the ship was likely a Pentapod ship or an undeclared mining/merchant or even possibly although less likely pirate ship that the research station had not noted passing through the system. The idea that this was a new species was not well received and championed by any high-ranking authority. Simply stated, no in-depth analysis or special precautions were taken to either monitor or to secure the system after the failure of first contact. Regardless, in the event of hostilities, the French research station was not armed with any weapons and had no quick and autonomous way of communicating with the fleets at Aurore. The crew did have supplies of small arms kept in the cargo bays. These arms were for use with the French Orbital marines and were meant for resupply of French troops, if needed. As the supplies were secured and in the Zero-G cargo hold they were of little use to the researchers on the edge of the frontier.
In 2297 all communications with the Arcturus station was lost after unknown warships attacked the next supply ship entering the system. The idea of piracy or possible Pentapod warships now seemed less likely, but still possible. A few nearly obsolete Ukrainian ships and some very capable French warships were sent to reinforce Aurore and then to Arcturus to investigate and possibly secure the station. The warships detached to investigate Arcturus did not even get within visual range of the station before it was approached by a several unknown, heavily armored and powerful ships. A painful decision was made to declare the station a captured casualty and determined that there was little chance of survivors. The French, Ukrainian and German fleet commanders began to recognize a significant potential threat and did send a few more powerful warships to shore up the meager defenses at Aurore, but did little else to prepare for any hostility.
Some French and Ukrainian were already forward staged at Aurore. German forces were deployed from nearby Hochbaden leaving that system practically undefended. The strongest French response was to deploy a frontline Battleship, with a flight of 6 fighters to Aurore. The Ukrainians had more than half of their fleet defending their lone outlining colony. The new German government sent a few frigates, but were obligated to used Hochbaden as their base of operations, with the intention of sending their new Battlecruiser on its completion. The senior fleet commander, lead by the French, determined that Aurore, because of its population base, would be the point of defense to address this unknown threat.
French Intelligence at the time wrongly concluded that there was an equal chance that this new alien threat could be coming from either the Wolf Cluster nearest to Hochbaden or Serpenti Cluster that lied farther out beyond Arcturus. The predicament with the decision to use Aurore as a base was both politically and economically motivated for support of the primarily French colonialists on the planet. However, any enemy ships from either the Wolf or Serpentinis clusters need not travel through Eta Bootis to penetrate into the French Arm. The Germans did not ignore this fact as they had begun modifying some of their facilities at Hochbaden with energy weapons.
The crux of the defense of this frontier was that the primary supporting forces would not and did not share intelligence or unify under a single command. Although the French maintained the superiority of the situation the German and Ukrainian forces would not be subordinated and often patrolled without informing other forces of their intentions. Another fact, mostly ignored by high-level intelligence planners was that an enemy ship could travel straight to Hochbaden from Arcturus or via DM+18 2776 also known as “Wiseman”. Both of those systems were completely unmonitored during this period and the survey ships that were located in the area were moved back to the safety of the inner French colony worlds. The Eta Bootis system itself was difficult to monitor due to the star’s dual companion, which was prone to flares and that both stars had a fair number of gas giants and multiple moons. This companion star flares constantly interfered with long-range scanners was at some distance from the Aurore colony to properly patrol with any regularity without leaving the colony vulnerable.
The attack would come to Eta Bootis as planners anticipated, but when the attack occurred the human forces were scattered throughout the dual star system and were unable to provide a solid defense for the colony.
“Kafers love to fight” is both a cliché, and a fact. Ignorance is not bliss to a Kafer and it goes against Kafer physiology to be at peace. Kafers fight to keep their intelligence level high and is triggered by a similar biological stimulation that give humans an adrenaline boost during a time of crisis. Kafers fighting with others of its kind and serves as a valuable social tool in keeping civilized Kafer from falling in a pattern of self-destruction. In order to maintain this level of awareness the Kafer Leaders or “Suzerains” were at constant odds with each other, which was adequate as it fulfilled a sufficient level of stimulation for the entire species.
Non-Xenobiologists, Neo-Sociologists and other Pacifist groups’ claims that these creatures could be lived with in peaceful coexistence are both uneducated and ignorant. The Kafers did not attack humans because we invaded their space or they were just defending themselves. The Kafers attacked humans because violence is what makes them more self-aware. Unlike the Sung, Kafer physiology cannot be compared with accuracy to human behavior. Kafer actions can be analyzed, but comparisons to human reactions can only be for reference and not reason.
Although Humans have been and are still capable of savage violence; violence in itself does not boost a Humans individual intelligence level or make the person more self-aware. A poor human comparison could be to that of a psychotic killer that feels more alive and “closer to God” each time they kill. The reason this is a poor comparison, the killer may “feel” more intelligence and enlightened, but their intelligence quotient (IQ) does not actually rise. In Kafers, their intelligence will rise and remains high and may remain the due to prolonged combat. Violence is the Kafer natural addiction to obtain heightened self-awareness. A Kafer, cannot by their nature, be reasoned into peace and coexistence. To ask a Kafer to live in peace would be like asking all human to live with a lobotomy.
Kafers will use any opportunity for violence and heightened self-awareness even against a relatively passive species. Hundreds of years of Kafer mass murder of the completely passive Ylii (discussed later) have shown this to be a constant maxim. The Kafer discovery of a pseudo-hostile human species has had the result in galvanizing Kafer resolve and has given them an opportunity to the entire species for greater self-awareness. The Kafers reasoned that Humans can and will stimulate the level of self-awareness and their war is part of this higher awareness goal. This long-term stimulation of thought by making war with the humans is what the Kafers believe to be part of their overall destiny.
“Triumphant Destiny” vision was initially not initially successful in uniting the other Kafer Suzerains to its cause because without a massive human response and the weak combative response of the humans on the Arcturus station the other Kafer Suzerains were unconvinced of the combat potential of this new species. Initially, the Humans put up no more resistance the Ylii. Undaunted, a Kafer Suzerian that called itself “Triumphant Destiny” decided to prepare for a war with the humans on its own.
The Kafers knew, from intelligence gained after the capture of the station in the Arcturus system, that the Humans had vast, often combative, but scattered military forces. The Kafers did not yet understand the balkanization of the Human species and simply looked at the variety of humans as one of the same group. After waited for nearly two years for a counter attack from the humans the Kafers began their preparations for the first invasion of human space. The Kafer “Triumphant Destiny” mustered the majority of its forces, which consisted of 2 Battleships and 4 Battlecruisers, followed by a flotilla of support and transport craft and nearly all of its available ground forces. It struck out on its own to make war, (although that is not an accurate word to describe its intentions) with the Humans at the closest inhabited system to the Kafer sphere, the Eta Bootis System. With no warning because of the lack of picket and survey ships, Kafer forces arrived resolute, but scattered in the Eta Bootis system in mid 2298. The Kafers met an equally scattered and vacillate human defense of the Eta Bootis system.
28 August 2004
Copyright Michael Bolda, 2004. Starship images are by Laurent Esmiol, French Arm map is by Dan Hebditch and the DWRSI is by Abraham Gubler