FROM THE CRISIS
LESSONS FROM THE CRISIS
'THE KAFER WAR'
2 - The First Kafer War (2298)
Part 2 - The First Kafer War (2298)
The Kafer consider their space to be a region approximately 30-50ly centered on Gamma Serpenti. However, the Kafers do not have access to all of the stars in this sphere. Moreover some of these stars are not even reachable and those that are haven’t even been colonized let alone been fully surveyed. The Kafers had encountered only one other species in this sphere, the Ylii, which were completely non-aggressive species. The Kafers had enslaved them and utilized their captive to improve Kafer weapons and drives, but their passivity was disappointing challenge to the Kafers society.
The Kafers “sphere”, which is more like an hourglass, has three significant chokepoint systems. HC+3 1919, Gamma Serpenti and Arcturus. HC+3 1919 leads to the remaining Ylii colonies and is far away from the corridor, which leads to human dominated space. Gamma Serpenti, the Kafer’s homeword, divides the Kafer sphere much like Earth and is the hub between the French Arm and the American/Manchurian Arms. Arcturus, however, is the gateway and the most valuable chokepoint. The Kafer must to secure and hold Arcturus in order to keep the Human forces outside of their core territory.
For one full year, after 2297, the occupied French research station remained in Kafer control with no significant attempt by Humans to retake the system or the facility. This was a critically missed opportunity for the Human forces, as there was not always have a dedicated Kafer warship in the system to protect and monitor the locality. The dilemma with the initial Kafer/Human contact was due in part to the lack of understanding of the Human threat and the fractured nature of the Kafer Associative. The same could also be said about the Human species.
The Kafer Associative is a loose confederation of Kafer groups that controls several dozen star systems that are being exploited different Kafer leaders or “Suzerains” each with its own motives and ambitions. Each Suzerain controlled a number stars; it’s resources and in effect has its own military forces. The Associative has been constantly in conflict for power that would routinely evolve into wars between the groups. The Kafer leadership battled and conspired with and against each other for power, position, resources and more often just the need for conflict. The Kafer in charge of Gamma Serpenti was considered to be the defacto ruler, or Over-Suzerain, of the Kafers, but only had limited control over the other Suzerains. Each Suzerian would support its own military forces based on its own resources. Its true power base was dictated by its perceived or real threat to other members of the Associative.
By the end of the 22nd century the Kafers had not ventured to or past Arcturus simply because the leaders of the Associative did not believe in exploration for curiosity. However, Kafers are drawn to systems that mimic those of their homeworld and there basically were no stars in that area that the Kafers found appealing at the time. Kafers simply had no interest in any systems past Arcturus at the time when Humans were beginning to explore can colonize this area of space.
It was the Kafer Suzerain Triumphant Destiny whose ship first encountered the French research station orbiting Arcturus. The initial reason for a Kafer ship entering the system is still unclear. But after the event, the Kafers analyzed the situation and determined that more information was needed about this space faring organism. The Kafer Suzerain tasked a ship to board and “evaluate” this new species. Disappointingly to the Kafers, most of inhabitants aboard the station died without much of fight. Several dozen of these self-declared “humans” were taken to study and placed on a Garden world close to Arcturus inside Kafer space, but a few humans were also kept aboard the station with a Kafer contingent to collect as much information, probably linguistics study and some biological dissections and research. Although Ylii translators did a quick job of deciphering human speech the dialogs were often misunderstood and very often inaccurate because of human vernacular usage.
The Kafers did learn enough to understand that the humans had created a vast empire, learned of their homeworld and it’s dozens of colonies; the closest being located in an unlikely system only a little more that 4 light years away in what the Humans called the Eta Bootis System. However, the human reaction to the capture of one of their stations provided further disappointment. Ships entered the system and when approached quickly fled and none of those ships appeared to be warships of any significance as they presented no challenge. The Humans and Kafers were equally confused by each other presence and reactions.
Other than the Kafers obvious physiological differences the Kafer believe in the simple concept of remaining true to a proven design and going with established patterns of behavior. If it works, Kafers don’t fix it. Kafers typically will not change an effective, survivable design unless a radical change prompts the Kafer to reconsider the concept. Kafer military doctrine was constant in such a way as to unite behind proven designs and common concepts and make use of them species-wide.
All Kafer weapons, vehicles and warship designs are old, but tried and true concepts and are crudely durable. For example, all Kafer hand weapons effectively double as clubs as they are intended to be used in a fight and survive combat at close quarters. All Kafer ground troops use the same weapons and utilize the same simple combat and transport vehicles. All Kafer Suzerains fleet commanders have the same class rugged warships and transports. Therefore, Kafer fleet or armored unit is indistinguishable from any other Kafer equipment with the exception of naming glyphs and some slight external color differences. The Kafer ships are given names much like Kafers name themselves that reflect an experience of combat or a concept relating to combat. There is no known pattern of names or colors reflecting a ship class or design.
After the attack on Aurore, when Human forces retreated to Hochbaden to regroup, human strategic planners and intelligence personnel, designated the types of Kafer ships, crafts and weapons they encountered. The Human fleet defenders at Aurore identified two separate classes of capital ships, one type of fighter and one type of missile. Other Kafer ships, such as transports and scout ships were theorized, but never identified or witnessed during the initial assault. It is still unknown what the Kafers call these ships and their designations may not be translatable to reflect Humans understandings of standards and practices. Officials decided to designated the Kafer capital ships with Greek letter designations; the larger of the two being designated Alpha and the smaller of the two designated Beta. Small ships and missiles were given Western/European Allied military codes. The Kafer Fighter was fittingly designated F or Foxtrot class while the detonation missile was designated W or Whiskey class for no well-understood reason.
Kafer Battleship: The largest Kafer ship is what Humans would consider an equivalent to a Battleship. The Alpha, was a bit slow compared to other Human capital ships, but was designed for hard hitting and maximum survival at close quarters. The Alpha’s armor and screens are nearly impenetrable and are stronger that any Human capital ship. The Alpha carried an impressive array of energy beam weapons broke into two groups; 14 defense turrets no more powerful than their Human counterparts and four offensive broadside weapons one and a half times more powerful than any human design. 30 Whiskey missiles were carried in two bays and were only about ¾’s as powerful as the yet-to-be-fielded French Ritage-2 detonation missile. The battleship had four hangers that could carry up to four fighters although only two were carried on each Alpha class battleship during the first attack. Landers (probably carried internally in lieu of additional fighters) could deliver up to Kafer troops of unknown number. These landers were never seen by the Human fleets and were only speculated to their logical existence. The Kafer battleship’s sensors and were incredibly powerful and equal to the active sensors of the French Richelieu class battleships. The Alphas appeared to be able perform as stand-alone vessels designed to operate independently and conduct a variety of missions. The Alphas only real weakness is the two remote pilots that could only control one missile at a time.
Kafer Battle Cruiser: This was the first class of Kafer capital ships encountered by Human warships and the smaller of the two capital ships. The ship was the equivalent of a Human class Battlecruiser with most of the information regarding the Beta class was provided by two extremely damaged hulks. The Beta is a half size version of an Alpha and a bit faster, but its armor and screens were powerful less than seen on the Alphas. The Beta has less than half the number of defensive energy weapons, but does have four broadside weapons more powerful than those carried on the Alpha and twice a powerful as those carried on any human warship. Only 20 Whiskey class missiles are carried, ten less than the Alpha, again in two bays with two remote pilots. No fighters or landers were noted as being carried by a Beta although the ships did appear to be designed to accommodate, probably no more than 120 troops. Early estimations were that the Kafer troops, while wearing armored vacuum suits, are probably used to “hot board” a station or ship in space. The sensor suite appeared to the same as that carried onboard an Alpha. Although still undetermined, it is estimated that the Kafer ship that entered the Arcturus system in 2295 was possibly a Beta.
Kafer Small craft: Fighters, Scout ships and Transport Vessels: The fighters carried about the Alphas during the assault on Aurore were all the same Foxtrot class. These fighters are very heavily armored and screened, but have only a single low energy beam weapon and no other known weapons. There are three crewmembers per fighter; a pilot and gunner and a third that appear to serve the role of control of the other crewmembers. It is unknown if a dedicated Kafer scout ships/survey ships exists. Dedicated Kafer scout ships, if they do exist, are estimated to armed and armored and will probably resemble a fighter or transport probably modified with additional sensors. Kafer sensor drones or stations were also estimated to exist during this time but had not been seen.
no Kafer transports were clearly identified in 2298, they were known
to exist. This is partly due to the large number of Kafer
troops reported on Aurore which far exceeded the number that were estimated
to be carried onboard these capital ship, as well as grainy images of
unidentified ships in orbit taken from the surface. However,
troop Landers were rationally given the designations of L or
Triumphant Destiny’s assault force consist of most of it’s fleet. Two Alpha class Battleships with four Foxtrot class fighters (two per battleship) and four Beta class Battlecruisers. All of the ships carried a full complement of weapons for a total of 140 Whiskey class missiles. The invasion force also contained nearly all of Triumphant Destiny’s ground troops although the nature of how these additional ground troops and equipment arrived on Aurore is still speculation and involved a then unknown type of transport ship. Some troop landers were likely carried two of the Alphas hangers in lieu of additional fighters. Kafers seem to be able to utilize hangers for both fighters and/or landers.
The Kafer initial invasion was not a direct attack from Arcturus. The Kafer were estimated to have used a military tactic called doglegging (see figure 1). The Kafers often used doglegging as a way to confuse an adversary. The Kafers single-mindedness often will engender a feeling that the Kafer defender should anticipate an attack from the front. Several very cunning Kafer tacticians decided that random attack directions on a target, although more costly, was much more stimulating. In fact, modern Kafers rarely travel in a straight line from system to system or point to point unless specifically order to do so or by necessity.
The problem with a fleet coordinated dogleg is that fleets cannot arrive and turn at the same time at the rally points during each dogleg. The results are that when the doglegged fleet arrives in a system it is more that often scattered and initially unorganized. The closest large orbiting planet is usually used as a rallying point before the final assault begins.
When the Kafers doglegged into the Aurore system they came from an angle between the systems of Hochbaden and DM+18 2776 “Wiseman”. This fact was not unnoticed by military analysts and this is why there was an incorrect early estimation that the Kafers fleet could have come from the Wolf cluster. Early speculation was that Triumphant Destiny could used Weisman as a launch point and in fact the Kafer Suzerain did start building a waystation on a moon of the outer giant of DM+18 2776 during this period. Whether the Kafers “doglegged” from Wiesman or Arcturus is unclear but either could have been known if the Humans had provided some time of surveillance on these systems.
Triumphant Destiny’s fleet entered in the
Eta Bootis system on
The French were using only passive tracking systems to detect a Ukrainian convoy that was due to arrive via the Hochbaden system. By the time that the French commander realized the ships they were tracking were not the Ukrainian destroyers it was but too late to send anything more than an emergency signal to Aurore and the rest of the fleet. The first battle was very brief as the French missiles did some but very little overall structural damage to the Kafer ships. During that first engagement the two Kafer Betas, later designated Beta-1 and Beta-2, had taken significant damaged to their energy weapons but were still very capable despite having expended as many as 22 Whiskey class missiles. The Beta-2, which was the less damaged of the two, was suffering from over-stimulation when they detected and then engaged the Ukrainian Convoy. During these first two engagements all seven of the Human ships were destroyed, but a significant cost to the Kafer ships. Both Beta-1 and Beta-2’s energy weapons were almost completely eliminated and the Kafer ship’s missile complements were reduced by 75%. During this first day no other Kafer ships came under fire, although Beta-4 probably expended two missiles while destroying a Thorez class courier that was attempting to depart the system.
Destiny’s fleet had managed to arrive in the Aurore system practically unopposed
and had now joined up to prepare for a counter attack. The Kafers anticipated a rapid response, as the
Kafers knew of the distress calls made by all of the ships. However, the lack of immediate response confused
and frustrated the Kafers. The
Human warships did put forth considerable resistance when attacked but
these Humans were not putting up any more of an aggressive challenge
than did the Ylii. For the remainder
of the day the Kafers waiting for a counter-attack that did not come. Finally
The Attack on Aurore: The Human fleet was also equally perplexed the attack tactics being presented by the invaders. The military commanders did not anticipate the Kafers fleet delayed response and assumed an attack on the fleet and Aurore would be immediate. The remaining Human forces took up defensive positions in the vicinity of Aurore and awaited a strike.
The now combined French/Ukrainian fleets consisted of 6 warships and supporting fighters were showing equal cooperation in the face of this unknown danger. French Admiral du Boise commanded the fleet from his Flagship the Battleship Jeanne d’Arc while Ukrainian Kontr-Admiral Borodin was designated second in command in a good-will display of cooperation. The Aurore defense force, as it was then known, consisted of a frontline battleship with its complement of 6 fighters and four old and somewhat obsolete French frigates. The remainder of the deployed Ukrainian fleet, a cruiser and an obsolete destroyer, completed the defense force.
The German Battlecruiser Bismarck with its complement of 4 fighters and a powerful escort which was due to deploy to Hochbaden was still in construction in the core and a couple of weeks away from launch. Consequently the German contingent in the critical Hochbaden system amounted to little more to a pair of frigates and was largely unaware of the events that were about to transpire as no courier escaped the system during those first critical 72hrs.
Franco/German relations were still strained following the War of German Reunification, but the German command was willing to cooperate with the French and was planning to destroy theie new Battlecrusier with a Crusier as the centerpiece of a powerful squadron based in the Hochbaden. By this time several to their orbital facilities in the Hochbaden system had been modified with energy weapons and some missile batteries, but the Germans would not put their exclusive colony of Hochbaden at any greater risk. So their small garrison force would remain stationed away from Eta Bootis, which after all was protected by the superbly capable Jeanne d’Arc.
remaining ships of the Aurore defense fleet were determined to protect
their colonies and their people. The
Kafers attacked the Human fleet on the 6th of April of 2298
with overwhelming resolve. The
Kafer swarmed on the largest ship, which was the battleship Jeanne
d’Arc virtually ignoring the remainder of the fleet. Although
the battleship could have escaped during this assault, it remained close
to the colony as her commanders resolved to hold Aurore or die trying. After
her drive and bridge were destroyed the surviving crew sent a general
retreat order to the remainder of the fleet. The Jeanne d’Arc
would remain in far orbit and hold as long as she could to give the
remainder of the remainder of the ships a chance to escape to Hochbaden
to regroup and reinforce. The
fleet initially remained and tried to mount a counterattack but were
too beaten and demoralized to continue with the loss of their flagship
and two frigates as well has the Ukrainian destroyer. A
total eight ships were lost during this route. The
French battleship was demolished along and four of her fighters destroyed. The two remaining French fighters piggybacked
on the Ukrainian cruiser back to Hochbaden. The
two venerable French frigates destroyed were the Acoint
and Vauquelin, both veterans of the
War of German Reunification and Central Asian war, respectively. The Ukrainians also lost the antiquated destroyer
For three months the Humans conducted repairs and reinforced their strength at Hochbaden, but the human reaction to the attack was slow and unorganized as the Human fleets were scattered over a wide area and orders from the central governments on Earth took weeks to get word of the attack to their colonies and give ships orders to redeploy. The Hochbaden system was well monitored and any Kafer ships attempting to enter or pass through the system would have been immediately noticed. Automated and manned monitoring stations, remote drones and watchposts were scattered throughout the vast system. Repairs and upgrades to the tattered Human fleet were hastily conducted between frequent system patrols. Couriers were dispactched as quickly as possible to warn the central governments back on earth, but word of the events took two weeks to reach the Core and another three weeks to get first replacement equipment and supplies to the facilities at Hochbaden.
As the weeks went past various world media outlets blasted all governments for not reacting quick enough to the “Arcturian Menance” as it was then called. A German news crew on Hochbaden was the first to broadcast the news and pictures of the assault along with a few grainy images of the bug-looking invaders. The term Kafer, German for Bug, had not reached the fleets and the local Aurore colonists had given invaders other names. The French colonists referred to them as Capu, the Ukrainians Juk, English-speaking colonists simply referred to them as the bugs or roaches, but the term Kafer stuck overall. The inaccurate description and term “Kafer” was based on that news report and stuck in the public ear throughout the rest of the human sphere.
Back in Kafer dominated space the word of the fighting on the Aurore system had not stimulated the Kafer Associative the way Triumphant Destiny had anticipated. The Kafer Suzerain had not received any reinforcements and was unable to replace destroyed components to its warships. The Humans had managed to destroy Beta-2 and two fighters in the three days of battle, but most significantly their missile numbers were reduced by two thirds to just fewer than 50. All ships had been repaired structurally but the damage the human forces inflicted had significantly reduced energy weapons capabilities on all of their ships.
The Liberation of the Aurore Colony. After nearly three months, at the end of June 2298, the determined Human fleets departed Hochbaden to engage the Kafer forces still holding orbit over Aurore and liberate the colony. The allied Humans, determined to regain the colony and defeat the menace, reinforced their meager fleet with another frontline French Battleship, the Tallyrand, with a full complement of 8 fighters, but supported with only two frigates that survived the original confrontation. More importantly, however, the French fleet had finally been updated with 22 of the new French Ritage-2 missiles, which was a third more powerful that the Kafer Whiskey class missile and vastly superior to the barely useful Ritage-1 remote fighter/missiles. The Ukrainians reinforced the French with their deployed cruiser with two leased frigates of the French design, each carrying a single Ritage-1 and new Ritage-2 missile. The German committed their entire fleet detachment from Hochbaden to assist the dedicated French/Ukrainian fleet.
Although credit is due its commanders, the true savior of the liberation of Aurore was the French Ritage-2 and the German SR-9’s and SR-10’s missiles. The older Glowworm and Ritage-1 missiles were useful as remote fighters but could not survive long in battle and were woefully underpowered. These missiles caused unanticipated catastrophic harm to the Kafer’s already damaged fleet and forced an early outcome to the Kafer hold of the Eta Bootis system.
During the first stages of the battle the Humans attacked the Kafers around Aurore by firing waves of missiles at a single Kafer ship then retreating, firing again and then retreating. The human ships were weakly armored and could not withstand Kafer broadside ship-to-ship combat and wisely opted against this ploy. This tactic confused and frustrated the Kafers as attacked Kafer ships would attempt to break off from the bulk of the Kafer fleet to engage the human ships only to be singled out by the Human forces and then again gravely damaged. The Kafers were losing their ability to fight and Triumphant Destiny reluctantly but wisely chose to flee the system before losing any more ships. A retreat was ordered and the Kafers haphazardly fled the system without an attempt to retrieve any Kafer troops still on Aurore.
Initially, the Humans did not appear to be the foreboding threat as Triumphant Destiny had hoped when it seized the station orbiting Arcturus. The station did not have any weapons other than some small arms and nearly all of the humans surrendered rather than attempt to engage in battle. Once better translations of Human speech was deciphered, the Kafers did learned from their human captives confusing stories of a history of epic wars, vast fleets of warships, battles across the stars and historical atrocities committed by their species. Triumphant Destiny now saw this new species as a potential challenge if the Humans could be persuaded to fight. The Suzerain saw this as a significant opportunity and at first tried to seize power by uniting other Suzerains behind its cause of attacking a new species.
It could not convince other Suzerians to engage in this war as the other Kafers did not understand or believe the Human captors stories due to poor translations. Primarily the other Kafers did not rush into war with these humans was their distrust of Triumphant Destiny’s ambitions. Without success Triumphant Destiny took it upon itself to carry the war to the Human. Its strategy was a win for its species regardless if the Suzerain won or lost in a battle with these Humans. Either way, it might provide a catalyst for the Kafer species to unite; hopefully behind it’s leadership. After the retreat from Aurore the Kafer Suzerain fleet limped back to it homeworld and then called for an assembly of the Associative to again rally for war.
The Humans had some advantages and disadvantages over the Kafers that invaded Aurore in 2298. Kafer destroyed human settlements and facilities without regard to their usefulness or without known reasons.The Humans were galvanized in resolve to defeat these invaders at all costs after it was clear that the Kafer killed indiscriminately and without mercy using both conventional and nuclear weapons. Although, the “Kafer Rot” is still believed to be biological weapon by most military strategists it must be understood that the Kafers enjoy their food in putrid decaying state. The “Kafer Rot” weapon may simply have been a natural biological that the Kafer carried with their foodstuff that may simply have had a devastating effect on human agriculture on Aurore. More likely, but less widely accepted, is that the “biological weapons” that were launched on the colonies crops was simply designed to give the Kafers a source of food during the invasion. Bias should not demonize every event without cause, but such is the effect on the rational human mind when genocide is taking place.
Human fighting style also shocked and confused the Kafer invaders. The different human factions and reactions were unclear to the Kafers and often the Kafers would attack and wait for a counter attack that did not come or were confused by the lack of unity of the human forces. “Enlightened” Kafers commanding ships and troops have been know to withdraw from a fight if they know they are going to lose and probably die fighting, although the average Kafer will fight to the death more often than not. To a Kafer leader undamaged Human ships that would attack and then run before being damaged was very confusing to early Kafer strategists. This inaction often confused the Kafers and they wasted critical time baiting for a strong counter-attack.
Kafer had grown accustomed to fighting other Kafer warships and were not prepared for the hit and run tactics of the human forces or ambushes that the humans often employed. However, the human still suffered scattered divided forces, weak organization and had warships that were lightly armed and armored. Human weapons standards were high and specialized where the Kafer weapons lacked the overall creativity and specialization of Human weapons.
Overall, the Kafers weapons were more powerful and more survivable that Human weapons, but Human weapons creativity cannot be underestimated. Kafer warships at the Second battle of Tithonus were expecting Human missiles to be of the same low-capacity that they had encountered three months earlier. Kafer ships would close on Human ships and ignore the launched Human missiles, assuming that their shields and armor would protect them as it did earlier in the conflict. The variety of human weapons and tactics proved to be the greatest asset against the slow-to-react Kafer commanders.
Human ships are woefully under armored and outmatch by Kafer offensive energy weapons but the hit and run tactics did wear down Kafer Fleet strength and finally resulted in the Kafer forces withdrawing. Triumphant Destiny did not see any advantage to sacrificing his fleet and ordered a general retreat to his homeworld via Arcturus. All of the Kafer ships scattered and fell back causing the Humans to breakup their own forces in order to ensure that they were indeed departing the system.
Beta encountered that day was a barely mobile hulk which power
plant had failed and almost no weapons remaining. The
ship was attempting to fuel its auxiliary power plant and conduct repairs
in the ice rings of the Gas Giant Laodemon
when the Bismark approached the ship thinking that it was succumb
to battle damage. The Kafer ship managed to fire a few times at very
close range and damaged the
Part 2F- Relief
The Humans had won back Aurore, but thousands of Kafer troops remained scattered on Aurore. The colony was devastated and had completely collapsed. Probably a million civilians were dead. The French military had rallied together after the crushing moral collapse following the loss of the Jeanne d’Arc and developed a strong working bond Ukrainians. Finally Franco/German tensions had at least been laid aside for now.
The Kafer route from Aurore had no demoralizing effect even with the loss of two Kafer warships. In fact, Triumphant Destiny could now show the Associative that the Humans were a worthwhile adversary and foe. It determined to show and convince the other Kafer Suzerians the opportunity that lay before them.
The next two years were a period of lost opportunity and naïve hopes for peace for the Humans and gave the Kafers a change to organize and rally for an intergalactic war of epic scale that would cost millions of lives and cause incalculable damage across a dozen worlds.
6 September 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