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Order of Battle: Terminus Edition Part I
Historical Basis for Council-Terminus Engagements
While filled with numerous small nation-states, no single one of which could be a threat to the big three Citadel nations, the Terminus as a whole is considered the largest threat to galactic stability currently in existence. It has held this role since just before the Krogan Rebellions, and in many ways the slow Asari and Salarian response to Krogan aggression was due to their over-focus on the Terminus Warlords then active.
Publicly, the Council is extremely dismissive of the Terminus as a threat due to the disorganized and conflicted nature of the region, and the lack of any real central authority. While the recent war between Ganar and T'Loak was unusually vicious, the fact remains than there is a similarly large conflict every fifty or sixty years within the region as tensions boil over. Usually this occurs when young, up and coming warlords seek to violently expand, or when their elders attempt to contain or eliminate them.
Privately, the Council is more than aware that the Terminus has a long history of unifying in very short order when they believe the Citadel is interfering in their affairs. To date, there have been seven 'Incursions' that featured a Terminus alliance taking war to the Citadel nations. Only one of these has occurred during Aria's rule, the so-called Cotarian Affair, while Patriarch lead one as well. The prior five occurred before, during, and then after the Krogan rebellions.
Nearly all existent war games and plans are based upon these Incursions, updated periodically in Council Arms Committees based upon current trends.
The early incursions were characterized by their relatively primitive nature and limited goals. These were not invasions of conquest or declarations of war so much as they were pirate raids on a galactic scale, coordinated beneath a central leadership in order to maximize the damage and profits. Their primary goal, which was generally achieved, was to demonstrate to the Council that the Terminus was beyond their control and that it would fight to maintain that status.
Xenthan Incursion: The first time that the Council was forced to recognize that the Terminus was a military threat was shortly after the Salarian Union had awarded the Maferath, Halla, and Tevine clusters to the Krogan in the wake of the Rachni Wars. Not about to give the Empire a foothold so near to their territory, the Terminus Warlords then active met on Omega and unified beneath Matriarch Carrathi T'Sharea.
Her vessels, with their distinctive black armor, would give rise to the 'Black Fleet' designation given to the combined Terminus forces, who swarmed into Krogan and then Salarian space in a rapid scorched earth campaign before just as quickly retreating back to their ports.
Rebellion Incursions: Three additional incursions, all lead by T'Sharea, would occur during the Krogan Rebellions. Two were in response to Krogan aggression and actually proved to be of some aid to the beleaguered Citadel forces, as the combined Terminus fleet shattered the Imperial Fourth Armada in the second Incursion.
The third was smaller, a punitive strike against the nascent Hierarchy after the Turians attempted to secure bases in the Tevine cluster. While the Turians had no ability to respond at the time, they would remember, and a century after the war's end would lead to the fourth incursion.
Anderfels Retaliation: The closest that the Terminus and Council have ever come to open war occurred just after the Krogan Rebellions. The Hierarchy had not forgotten the humiliating loss of the 12th Strike Group above Anderfels, and were dismissive of the Asari and Salarians for their refusal to bring order to the Terminus. A heavy strike fleet was dispatched and began to secure the Tevine cluster, easily fending off the initial, uncoordinated reprisals from the local pirate groups. The various warlords met on Omega to discuss their options in light of declarations from Palaven that indicated this was merely the first step in 'securing' the entire region.
Rather than unify under a central command, the various Warlords instead put a different plan into motion. Going off of the advice from the newly arrived Krogan refugees, they elected to avoid offering the Turians open battle or even going after the Hierarchy at all. Instead the Black Fleet swarmed into both the Republics and Union, hammering patrol groups and razing still-battered colonies before withdrawing. The war weary Asari and Salarians had no stomach, or capacity, for another galactic war, and the Council dictated an ultimatum to Palaven: Withdraw or disperse your fleets to protect our colonies as well. Failure to comply would see the economic assistance cease immediately.
The Turians, lacking the capacity to protect all of Council space as well as go on the offensive, sullenly withdrew.
The two modern Incursions, lead by Patriarch and Aria, were more mixed affairs than the earlier operations. Not as tactically successful in the short term, but strategically they again served to reinforce the Terminus's capability of overt military action when required. They also form the basis of most modern planning around a potential war with the region.
Rethian Incident: Four centuries ago, the Council considered itself properly recovered from the Rebellions and well suited to finally make some inroads against their ideological rival. While still wanting to avoid open war, the notion of restarting proper colonization of the Attican Traverse was appealing for a number of reasons. The Rethian cluster was selected as ideally positioned on the Salarian border, reachable by three relays, and in position to blunt the habitual raids. Lead by three Hiearchy and two Union battlegroups, the Council quickly 'pacified' the region and made preparations to stay. The operation was timed to occur just as the Quarian's Federated State moved to secure Xentha.
Opposing them was Warlord Raik Vol, ruler of Omega (and future Patriarch), and he was more than aware that this would merely be the first step of a long-term plan to further isolate the Terminus by consuming the Traverse that had acted as the proxy-battleground between Omega and the Citadel. The dual-loss of the Maferath and Rethian clusters saw him call a Crush on Omega, and he was quickly joined by Weyrloc Zaen, Ganar Yulaz, Matriarch T'Kun, the Salarian Trinity, and more than forty 'minor' warlords then active.
The plan they hammered out consisted of two primary steps. First, the Rethian cluster had to be cleared, and the Council forced to withdraw. Once the supporting forces were cleared out, the Quarians could be dealt with in detail and Xentha recovered. The Rethian operation would consist of three principle operations. The first would be lead by Matriarch T'Kun, and would consolidate all of the capital ships then available to the Terminus near relay 248. This group would act as a fleet-in-being, pinning the Council fleets in Rethia simply by their presence. A second fleet, run by the Trinity and supported by Ganar's elite Krogan army, would fight through relay 249 and attack Salarian worlds to draw the Union's fleets away. The third group, commanded by Vol and Zaen, would follow a longer route through the Traverse to menace the Hierarchy proper and minimize reinforcements.
Independent raiders would form up under Ha'diq ul Culd, and begin an old-stye incursion into the Republics to keep the Asari busy. Once Rethia was isolated, T'Kun would move in and destroy the Turian fleets, after which all groups would return to Omega to await the Council's response.
Initially, the strikes went well. The Second Fleet breached Union Space after a pair of sharp engagements, and the Republics were soon entirely occupied dealing with pirates attacking dozens of worlds simultaneously. Unfortunately for the Terminus, the Salarians had anticipated the counter-attack, and began one of their own. The Trinity and Ganar were driven back with heavy losses when the colonies they attacked proved to be little more than pre-prepared traps intended to kill as many pirates as possible, and Vol and Zaen ran headlong into the Union's Third Fleet, which had been shifted to protect the Turian supply lines.
Adjusting their own plans on the fly, T'Kun called for both pincers to move at once to Rethia, and jumped there with the Terminus's heavy fleet to offer the elated Turians battle. Twenty-nine Terminus dreadnoughts and battlecruisers engaged twenty-seven Turian ships of the line in the largest capital ship duel since the third battle of Tuchanka, with hundreds of lighter vessels scattering across the cluster in a dozen smaller battles.
When the proverbial dust settled, the Terminus had lost more heavy ships, twelve to the Turian's eight, but had managed to destroy the Primarch's flagship, using the temporary loss of coordination to break the Turians' tight formations. The Hierarchy fleet was unpleasantly surprised when the additional Terminus fleets arrived, and elected to retreat to Salarian space to recover and plan a coordinated counter-attack.
But once again politics would come into play, the Asari being more than irritated that Salarian and Turian scheming had dragged them into the conflict. The Salarians themselves had suffered heavier casualties than anticipated, and T'Kun's sudden attack had disrupted several of their covert plans to prepare the cluster to entrap the Terminus's largest force and destroy it in detail. In the end, the Council once again called an end to the campaign over Turian objections, and a tense peace settled back into place.
While the Terminus had won a strategic victory, they had incurred far heavier losses than their opponents, and Raik Vol's place as the preeminent warlord was threatened by his personally mediocre performance. His killing of Matriarch T'Kun twenty years later temporarily secured his position, but also robbed the Terminus of its best fleet commander and destabilized the spinward Terminus.
Cotarian Affair: Aria's sole incursion occurred a century and a half ago, and was focused around Illium and the anti-spinward Republics. Ambassador Cotaria, the Republics representative on Nos Astra, had long been agitating for the unification of the spinward Terminus's Asari worlds with the Republics, by force if necessary. This made her horrifically unpopular locally, and her continued presence was considered an insult by the Board of Directors. She overstepped herself when she chastised Jona Sederis at a grand ball, following the statement up with several more insults for her 'uncivilized' hosts.
It was of no surprise to anyone in Nos Astra when she was found dead the next morning, along with the entire embassy staff. The Republics promptly went to a war-footing, the public for once demanding action, and the eager Hierarchy began their own preparations for a retaliatory campaign. Unfortunately for both nations, the politics had changed since the Rethian incident, as had the Terminus. The counter-weight of the Quarians was gone, and the Batarians and Salarians were too busy engaging one another in a shadow-war to involve themselves.
In contrast, the Terminus had improved its fortunes considerably. The Xenthan Empire had risen under the Turian Hakar family in the Maferath and Tevine clusters, while Lady Warlord T'Ravt's Free Traverse State dominated Rethia and Halla. Further, the Eclipse had more or less unified the typically fractured Outcast Asari.
Aria's summons saw the major actors gather on Omega, and agree to a basic war-plan should the Council decide to push. None of the warlords were, for once, eager for a fight, recognizing the Hierarchy's growth over the last several centuries. Instead, the usual plan of playing to Council politics was put into motion, with the targets being the Republics and the Union. Placed under Leska Sederis's command at Illium were the majority of the Terminus's heavy forces; Aria's Black Fleet, the Eclipse's Golden Armada, the Xenthan Navy, T'Ravt's fleet, and Zaen's old Krogan vessels. The usual mass of independent pirate ships, coordinated by Ganar Yulaz, would gather in the Traverse itself, clearly declaring their intent to launch a mass raid on the Salarians.
With nearly forty capital ships now above Illium, Thessia's government hesitated. Back-channel conversation with the Salarians revealed a very real fear that the Hegemony might jump in on Omega's side of any conflict. The debate to start a galactic war over the death of an unpopular ambassador was interrupted by an offer from the Board of Directors to pay minor reparations and offer a formal apology. The Republics' Assembly quickly accepted the deal, and though tensions remained high for the next three years, the primary Terminus fleets withdrew.
Council War Plans
Most modern Council plans for war with the Terminus assume the following points:
1. The Terminus has a long-term trend towards nation building that has accelerated in recent years, and within the next century it is likely that three to five permanent states will have emerged with minimal independent colonies remaining. These nations would centered around Omega, Illium, and Xentha. Smaller powers may also exist around Zadith Ban, Theodosius, and Redcliffe-Stormwall.
2. This trend coincides with a steady migration of smaller groups to the Traverse, increasing that region's instability and threatening Union and Alliance interests. The most likely cause for a war would be Council action to pacify critical stellar clusters in the Traverse, an action that has historically been met with Terminus retaliation.
3. The Batarian Hegemony would likely join any coordinated Terminus action directed against the Systems Alliance or Salarian Union.
4. Long term, the infrastructure and coordinated industrial capacity of the Citadel nations would likely assure victory, however the public and political will to maintain a military campaign guaranteed to last years or decades has been historically lacking.
5. Individually, any one Council nation is not powerful enough to maintain a war against a unified Terminus. A collapse of willpower from any single nation would be enough to cause an end to the campaign, and efforts must be expended to ensure public support and protection.
6. Terminus forces typically show fanatic levels of morale when defending their territory, but are historically quick to cut and run when undertaking offensive campaigns if that campaign is not proceeding well.
7. Prior Terminus actions indicate their probable plan will be an evolution of their prior strategies.
In light of those seven points, the Council plan is roughly as convoluted as one would expect a multinational plan of battle to be. The trigger action is generally presumed to be a Turian advance through Alliance space into the Atttican Traverse, sparking a Terminus consolidation for war. It also assumes that all existent Council races are working in coordination and are fully prepared for the campaign.
The primary goals are anticipated to be the elimination of the Hegemony and Xenthan Empire as political bodies, and securing both regions. A secondary objective would be the seizure of critical Outcast Asari worlds (Illium, Cathia, and/or Hesium). As per standard Council doctrine, the Citadel fleet admiral would be the supreme commander for the grand campaign, with the Citadel and Volus fleets begin kept as a strategic reserve.
Current doctrine is for three distinct zones of battle. The first would be in the Hegemony, and would consist of Alliance and Union forces eliminating the Batarian nation. STG teams, supported by Salarian Spectres and Human N7 special forces teams, would destabilize the nation by attacking critical installations and assassinating competent Ha'diq and military leaders. While the Alliance would begin a broad-push advance to secure or destroy the Hegemony's Class A colonies, the Union would make a lightning attack on Khar'shan itself to break the nation.
The second zone would be the Traverse and Xenthan region. The Terminus's expected reaction is a mirror of the Cotarian Plan; a consolidated heavy fleet moving to threaten the Traverse while a mass pirate armada positions itself near Illium in preparation for a surge into the Republics. To counter this, the full Hierarchy fleet, back-stopped by the Elcor, would offer direct battle, preferably in the Traverse, trusting Turian discipline and zeal. Even a lost battle would be considered a strategic victory if sufficient Terminus ships were destroyed, as the Council nations can more easily replace losses. Once the primary threat was beaten back, or destroyed entirely, the Hierarchy would begin a slow push into the core Xenthan regions.
The third zone would be in the Republics, with the entire Asari navy positioned to intercept attackers. Asari and Turian spectres would be scattered across the nation, charged with leading resistance and local counter-attacks to ensure that even a successful raid suffers heavier losses than the pirate captains will be willing to accept. If practicable, the Asari would also advance on Illium to attempt to lure the Golden Armada away from the Traverse-Xentha zone.
The initial engagement is planned to last for several months, and be followed with a five to ten year campaign to secure Xentha and the Hegemony entirely. The former would become a Turian protectorate and buffer-state between the Salarians and Terminus, while the latter would be vassalized by Earth. By such time any Terminus alliance will likely have fractured as the warlords seek to safeguard their own power rather than help each other, and the Council would be given a reprieve to rest and refit.
Terminus War Plans
While there is no 'unified' plan, Jona Sederis, Aria T'Loak, and Yan T'Ravt are all recognized as having their own war plans in case of conflict with the Council.
Aria's strategy is essentially along the Council's expectations, featuring a massive gathering of forces at Omega, divided into two fleets. The first, heavier fleet, would move to threaten and counter any direct Council action. The second, raiding force, would be directed against whichever nation seemed to have the weakest political will (likely the Republics).
In contrast, the Eclipse is focused entirely on a conflict with the Republics, and believes them to be the largest threat to the Terminus. Their plan essentially revolves around drawing any attacker from the Traverse into a slogging campaign through the Xenthan region while the Terminus goes on the offensive into the Republics. The main Terminus fleet would be used aggressively, to destroy and drive back the Asari and carve out a buffer zone of relays around Illium before allowing the smaller pirate bands to burst through openings provided. The end goal is the societal collapse of the Republics and Thessia's will to fight, forcing the other Council nations to waste billions of credits and years of time putting the nation back together.
Finally, Yan T'Ravt is the only major player on either side to believe that a more limited war is possible. The majority of her focus is on the Systems Alliance, believing that the Council would be more than happy to let the humans suffer the brunt of any fighting over the Traverse and would do little to interfere so long as the other Warlords also remained out of the fighting.
Her staff has assembled three primary plans as a result; an offensive plan to seize Horizon and the other independent colonies that could be used to stage Alliance forces, a defensive plan intended to protect Xentha and Anderfels from an expected Alliance attack, and a surprise offensive intended to destroy the Alliance's Fourth Fleet near Watson, using the Alliance's standard procedure of retaliation to lure the Fifth or Third into the Maferath cluster to be destroyed in detail. After which either the offensive or defensive plans would be put into motion depending on casualties suffered in the prior engagements.
Military-Political Cohesion of the Terminus
The primary limiting factor to both sides is the capability of the various actors to remain allied and to work together in a unified fashion. In this, both sides have their advantages and disadvantages.
The Council, as a military alliance, is extremely secure with long-established chains of command. Matriarch Lidanya has total authority over the combined Council Fleet, and should the need arise, can conscript the forces of any member state via Council approval. Otherwise, national commanders remain in control of their own forces, though they may be placed under the supreme command of an Asari Matriarch or Turian Primarch. These would act as regional commanders, and be responsible for directing grand strategy while still leaving their subordinate admirals free to act in accordance to their national doctrine.
In contrast, there is no defined leader of the Terminus armada, and even when grouped together the various internal groups tend to agitate one another. Traditionally, the most qualified Asari admiral is given fleet control, and it is anticipated that Leska Sederis would assume that role in a future conflict. While this would generally ensure that Illium-Omega-Xenthan forces act properly, Heinrich die Waffe is not a fan of the aristocratic Asari and his people would likely chafe under her command. Past incursions saw numerous divisions of Terminus naval groups entirely due to internal strain, and the varying methods of dispatching commands ensured that even numerically superior Terminus forces can struggle to maintain formation.
The counterpoint is the unfortunate fact that the Citadel Council is not unified politically except in fiction. The Asari openly hate the existing battle plan and constantly agitate to change the point of focus away from Xentha and towards Illium, and their population would be highly unlikely to support Turian-Human expansion. The Elcor and Volus likewise have no real appetite for conflict with the Terminus, believing that the region's slow march towards civilized nation-states will eventually make them palatable neighbors. Humanity is the only real backer of the Turian plan, though there are many political movements that are against such military adventurism. For their own viewpoint, the Salarians approve of the plan in concept, but reject the division of spoils at the end, not seeing why the Alliance and Hierarchy should receive swathes of the galaxy.
Against this are the various Warlords. While they are openly rivals with one another, in many cases they get on better personally that the Citadel Councilors, and are generally considered to be utterly united in their hatred of anything Council related. While there would assuredly be back-room bickering, particular over the spoils of war and who is contributing what to the action, once a war began the Terminus would likely remain tightly allied until sufficiently powerful military defeats were inflicted.
The Terminus's ability to gather actionable, military intelligence varies sharply depending upon the region and the inclination of the Shadow Broker to provide them with data.
The Attican Traverse is the most reported on area outside of the Terminus, and very little occurs in the region without Aria, T'Ravt, or die Waffe being informed. Much of this information comes from independent pirates who are paid small amounts for accurate intel, with more coming in from paid off colonists and Hegemony resources. Likewise, the Asari Republics are rife with sympathizers for the Outcast movement, and both Aria and Sederis generally have a good feel for both the military and political actions occurring there.
In contrast, the Union and Alliance are veritable blank walls beyond what marauding pirates and criminals can provide, and the Warlords generally rely heavily on the Broker to keep them updated in regards to Salarian and Human actions. This is a noted change from mere decades prior, when Die Waffe had a sizable spy ring operating in the Skyllian Verge. It's discovery and destruction sharply limited the capacity for deep raids into the Alliance in the wake of the Blitz.
Against this are the full powers of the Council's intelligence agencies and Spectre offices, though both groups have to balance their time between investigating and watching each other in addition to watching the Terminus. As a general trend, Council intelligence on the economic state of the Terminus is generally accurate thanks to STG penetration, but the paranoid nature of the Warlords typically ensures that there is a less clear view of their military capability.
The largest problem is generally conveying what information is given back to their superiors without revealing themselves, given the fact that the Terminus's FTL network is infested with several shackled AI's that are quick to notice unusual communications signals. Omega's Elder in particular is problematic as it forces spies to use physical drives and dead-drops to get their reports out.
Next chapter will have the actual order of battle, since that will be useful as a reference for the core story as it progresses.
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