First Bug War
The beginning of the Arachnid War was capped off by encroachments within the borderzones of a species observed but otherwise ignored by the Federation as too primitive to be of any threat. The Council at the time had believed that the Arachnids were parasitic but not dangerous enough to warrant response aside from horde culling.
After several notable raids on human frontier colonies within the "territory" of the Arachnids, action culminated in the very first responsive measures declared by the Council, otherwise referred to as "police actions". In theory, these were mass culling operations. In practice, it was generally warfare all but in name. The first engagements were only limited to defensive measures and clearing of frontier colonies which had been infested. These actions eventually disturbed the collective hive mind of the pseudo-arachnid enough to warrant massive escalation. The Arachnids have done what the Skinnies have never managed – they have set their pincered feet on soil of the Sol system. Worse by far, they have assaulted the Earth itself. These are insults and threats the Federation cannot allow to go unanswered. To do so would betray the very bedrock of the Federation and would weaken humanity at the moment it most needs its strength. SICON is called up every available resource to eradicate humanity’s sudden bug problem, marshalling the finest soldiers in the history of the race to annihilate this new and terrible enemy.
The War on Bugs
The Arachnid infestation of Pluto was a sore blow to the Federation. For the first time, war with an alien species was not something confined to the distant borders of human space. Instead it was right here, in humanity’s back yard. A remorseless, deadly enemy had encroached to the very doorstep of Federation power and had done so undetected. Still unsure what to make of the Arachnids, whether they were a continuing threat to humanity or just a passing hazard, the Federation did not yet declare war upon them. SICON Fleet ships and Mobile Infantry troopers were to keep a close watch for them, and destroy them if encountered but, while plans for war were certainly drawn up, they were not yet implemented.
That came to a sudden end 18:17 GMT on December 24, 2268, when the Arachnids attacked Earth itself, obliterating the city of Buenos Aires with nothing more than an asteroid fired into the city from space. More than ten million citizens and civilians of the Federation were killed in that cowardly assault and now, as never before, the Federation mobilised for total war.
Up to this point, no one on Earth suspected that the Arachnids were anything more than a previously undiscovered and unintelligent species indigenous to Pluto. Comments from troopers within the Mobile Infantry about the seemingly coordinated actions of the Arachnids were brushed aside, as was a report from one squad who claimed to have witnessed a huge Arachnid ‘space ship’ taking off from Pluto just before they were ordered to withdraw. A later investigation proved that a report from Charon’s transfer station that monitored the path of the Arachnid’s space craft was simply ignored by Sky Marshal Wood, who thought the idea too fanciful at the time.
That changed two weeks later when a huge asteroid entered the Solar System on a direct collision course with Earth. Travelling at over 50 miles per second, the spinning rock was not detected until it had already passed the orbit of Earth’s moon. With no time to react, SICON could only watch as the asteroid plummeted through the atmosphere towards South America. Slamming into Buenos Aires with the power of innumerable nuclear warheads, the city and a huge surrounding area were simply wiped off the map in seconds. The number of dead ran into millions and everywhere people asked how such a thing could have been allowed to happen.
It was only now that the reports of an Arachnid ship began to be taken more seriously and Sky Marshal Wood answered for his past decisions by being relieved of his position. The conclusion was now inescapable. If the Arachnids possessed space travel then the chances were they had not been indigenous to Pluto at all. At this point, speculation spiralled – had Pluto been but a prelude to invasion, a lucky escape from the complete annihilation of the entire human species? After all, if the Arachnids could destroy an entire city in seconds, take over a planet in days and retreat relatively unharmed, what else could they do? Was the Federation already surrounded on all sides by an alien empire?
Sky Marshal Collins, Wood’s replacement, began to compile the answers. Charon’s transfer station had already plotted the trajectory of the departing Arachnid ship to a far off star system known as Alpha Hydrae. The anger of Mankind now, at least, had a target.
The destruction of Buenos Aires was completely unexpected due to intelligence failures and a complete lack of interest by scientific circles towards the sub-castes of the Arachnid species. No dedicated efforts were previously made to thoroughly research the Arachnid aside from workers, warriors, and chariot bugs. After the destruction of Buenos Aires, the Council formally voted to declare war.
The Federation Mobilises
The advent of the Arachnid war has caused the Federation to mobilise as never before, and has vindicated once and for all the size of SICON’s military. After century upon century of peace with very few noteworthy interruptions (such as the conflict with the Skinnies), even some citizens had begun to question the expense and need for such an enormous military. Those voices have now fallen as silent as the city of Buenos Aires.
A wise strategist always knows to make plans for the worst possible situation and SICON has a small army of such wise strategists at its disposal. Since the Hesperus Incident, which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy and that it could pose a serious military threat to the Federation, military planners and tacticians of SICON have been formulating and reformulating plans for the day they all feared would come, the day that has now come. The day when the Federation faces a mortal and remorseless enemy – the day the entirety of the human race must focus itself on war to ensure its survival.
The first step in the Federation’s mobilisation was twopronged. If the SICON strategists and psychics were right, this would be a long and difficult campaign, which meant two things. First, the Federation would have to have sufficient material to prosecute this war. The Federal Council in Geneva issued Federal Order 2-2319 immediately on the heels of the declaration of war on the Arachnids. This Federal Order required all military shipyards and arms manufacturers to shift immediately into full scale production, ensuring a steady flow of everything from dreadnought battleships to Morita assault rifles as these facilities went into round the clock production. The second part of this mobilisation was less concrete. If this war was to be as difficult as suspected and last as long as suspected, the people, citizen and civilian alike, would have to be ready for it and for the sacrifices that come with war.
This was actually rather easy to accomplish. Indeed, the heavy lifting had already been done by the Arachnids themselves. The wanton destruction of Buenos Aires had galvanised the population of the Federation for war. They wanted vengeance and they cried with one voice for the Federation to deliver it. Even FedNet, which usually downplays or omits SICON’s military entanglements, became part of the war effort. Patriotic advertisements and calls upon the citizens and civilians to help do their part in the war effort are commonplace on FedNet now. Even some of the most popular programmes of FedNet have been pushing the war message – on Zegama Nights, for example, all three of the main characters are considering re-enlistment to help fight the Arachnid menace.
Thus far, the war with the Arachnids has not directly impacted the lives of the civilians of the Federation (aside from those living in Buenos Aires, of course) and, if the Federal Council can avoid it, the war never will have a direct impact. However, most members of the Federal Council and SICON privately concede that is wishful thinking. It is entirely possible the Arachnids will attack Earth again, causing further loss of life among the civilian population. In any case, it is a near certainty that the Arachnids will launch assaults on other Federation worlds, probably the stellar colonies, which will affect civilians there as surely as it would anywhere else.
Beyond such attacks, however, there are other ways in which the civilian population of the Federation may feel the impact of this war. A measure currently being debated in the Federal Council, for example, would impose an additional war tax upon everyone in the Federation, instructing the Economic Services division of the government to begin deducting an additional ten percent of every deposit made to a citizen or civilian’s financial account, in order to offset the high costs of war.
JOIN THE FEDERAL SERVICE
With the passage of Federal Order 2-2319, the weapons manufacturers, armouries, munitions plants and shipyards of the Federation went to maximum production, a hundred or more factories on multiple worlds working around the clock to provide SICON with the tools it will need to wage a long and difficult battle with the Arachnids.
Still, one thing is missing. The Morita TW-203-a assault rifle may be one of the finest personal weapons ever developed but without someone to fire it, it is useless. The shipyards of Luna and Hesperus may be able to create armadas of ships but without someone to fly them, they only take up space. There is no way to be certain how long this war will go on but one thing is absolutely sure – as long as it does, SICON will need dedicated men and women in the Federal Service to fire the rifles, crew the ships and bring humanity’s vengeance down upon the Arachnid race.
According to the oath taken by every new recruit joining Federal Service, every man and woman now in Federal Service will remain there until the Arachnid threat has been dealt with. It is SICON’s greatest fear that they will not be enough. After Pluto and Buenos Aires, the Arachnids’ capacity for destruction, on both a personal and planetary scale, was made abundantly clear and even as Federal Order 2-2319 went into effect, SICON was debating who would wield all the new rifles and crew all the new ships.Desperate times call for desperate measures. SICON’s analysts, strategists and psychics have crunched all the numbers – from the total current enlistment in the various services to projected recruitment figures to projected casualty figures for the next two years to equipment surpluses and necessary manpower. Their best estimates bear out SICON’s fears. Federal Service needs more men and women. Some of those men and women were already coming. The Arachnids’ attack on Buenos Aires stoked the fires of patriotism and vengeance in the hearts of civilians throughout Federation space, who suddenly found within themselves the strength of character to volunteer for Federal Service. Immediately after Buenos Aires, Federal Buildings on Earth and in the colonies were swarmed with potential recruits seeking to enlist. However, most of them never did. After all, the recruitment officers were trained to talk people out of Federal Service and most of them were exceptionally good at their jobs. After hearing from a true soldier the dangers of war – or seeing it in the form of a multiple amputee manning the enlistment desk – all too many of these would-be recruits went home for their 48 hour leave and never returned.
Normally, that is exactly what SICON would want to happen. Now that war is upon the Federation and the day when the numbers of SICON’s personnel will be too depleted to fully prosecute the war, SICON has had to make some hard decisions.
Although aggressive recruitment seems the best option, it was a difficult pill for SICON and the Federal Council to swallow. It goes against the grain of the Federation itself and the debates over it were impassioned and loud. Although every civilian of appropriate age in the Federation has the right to enlist and serve, for centuries it has been the Federation’s practice to do all it can to convince them not to
Federal Service wanted only the truly committed, the very best humanity had to offer, not someone who intended only to put in his minimum two-year commitment simply to gain a franchise. Now that war was come, SICON had to decide its priorities – to retain its current enlistment practices, or to do what it could to put more boots on the ground. Despite the arguments and debates, the winner of this battle between realism and strict adherence to ideology was predictable. Hard on the heels of Federal Order 2-2319, SICON, for the first time in Federation history, began an aggressive recruitment campaign designed to swell the ranks of Federal Service.
The mightiest weapon in SICON’s arsenal for aggressive recruitment was FedNet and that weapon was deployed immediately.
Even as news of the war was broadcast throughout the Federation, FedNet moved itself to a war footing, extolling viewers to ‘Do your part!’ in the war effort and reminding them that service guarantees citizenship. Combined with the fervour of anger and patriotism that came from the destruction of Buenos Aires, these pleas spurred an uncounted number of civilians to their local Federal Building. However, as mentioned above, many of these civilians never made it to Federal Service. Thus, SICON took another unprecedented step, moving enlistment centres out of the Federal Buildings and establishing Federal Service Information and Recruitment Centres in every major city. The gruff, irascible amputees that normally manned the enlistment desks were replaced by hale and hearty retired citizens who projected an air of strictness, leavened with a certain amount of kindness and a grandfatherly demeanor. Other changes were more subtle. The newly established recruitment centres still told prospective enlistees of the dangers of Federal Service but without the hard sell techniques that had been used for so long. Further, the period of leave granted to any new recruit, during which he could change his mind and return to civilian life for good, was decreased to 24 hours. There was even discussion of allowing those who had previously enlisted in Federal Service, then dropped out, to enlist again – but thus far SICON has been unwilling to relax that restriction.
There seems no need for SICON to widen its net any further. Between the relaxed enlistment procedures and the steady drumbeat of patriotism on FedNet, the number of enlistments in Federal Service has increased dramatically since the Arachnid attacks.
The Road to Victory
Taking much advice from Admiral Dienes, the man who would later replace him as Sky Marshall, Collins proposed a new campaign, the so called Road to Victory. Unable to directly strike at so distant a target as Alpha Hydrae, the Mobile Infantry would instead leap from star system to star system, eradicating any Arachnid presence they found before moving on. Colonies would be created along the Road to Victory to support this military thrust into Arachnid territory until, at last, a ﬁnal strike could be made against the Arachnid homeworld and the aliens ﬁ nally wiped out – a ﬁ tting end to a race that had caused so much pain to the peoples of Earth. The fact that this gargantuan effort would also leave the Federation with many new colonies and a huge amount of the galaxy’s real estate was not lost on the government.
There were opponents of this strategy but Dienes, as much as Collins himself, did not succumb easily to political opposition. He dismissed opponents who said this headlong streak through the galaxy was foolhardy, potentially leaving supply links and ﬂ anks exposed to counterattack. In spite of their spread throughout this region of the galaxy, he maintained that Arachnids were utterly lacking in strategic sophistication and could fairly be treated as animals, a galactic pest that it was his duty to wipe out.
In a little over a year, Collins had been replaced as Sky Marshal by Dienes after the Arachnids resurfaced at Praxis, a world previously thought to be paciﬁ ed. This setback had cost the Mobile Infantry nearly an entire division and the Road to Victory was temporarily suspended for two months until Praxis was retaken. There were dark mutterings from some quarters about Dienes and his willingness to let Collins become the scapegoat for the disaster but the new Sky Marshal quickly accelerated the Road to Victory and put it back onto its original timetable, silencing his political critics. The Road to Victory was now paved with success after success as the Mobile Infantry, supported by the Fleet, hopped from planet to planet. Dropping in force and smashing any Arachnid infestation apart, entire planetary systems were secured in rapid succession, allowing the Sky Marshal’s forces to spread across this region of the galaxy as they raced on towards their ﬁ nal target, Alpha Hydrae.
Quiet whispers that spoke of Arachnid infestations left almost entirely intact and planets scanned so quickly they could not possibly be certain an alien presence was absent were ignored. The Federation was destined for greatness and the Road to Victory was living proof of Mankind’s ascendance in the galaxy. Once again, people began to talk of a Manifest Destiny. The ships of the Fleet jumped from system to system, dropping Mobile Infantry squads and then transporting them to the next target with well-practised ease. Alpha Hydrae loomed ever closer and, for the ﬁ rst time, probes could be launched to scan the alien system. The Arachnid’s home planet was soon identiﬁ ed. Now the general population had a new name to target with their vengeance and dreams of galactic conquest.
During this period of time, Dienes was hard at work on the Homefront as well as the ever expanding frontline. Even as the line of human control in the galaxy was redrawn almost every day, the Sky Marshal collected the resources of the Federation and funnelled them into the greatest military machine Mankind had ever created. New warships were launched from Earth orbit every week while factories on all the colony worlds began churning out weapons, equipment and vehicles. Most importantly, vast recruiting drives for all three arms of SICON military service were initiated, boosting the manpower available and permitting the creation of the now infamous light armour troopers of the Invasion Companies.
This drive, that effectively placed the entire Federation on a war footing, had just one aim – Sky Marshal Dienes realised that if he wanted the invasion of Klendathu to end the entire conﬂict, he would need to deliver a force so powerful, so overwhelming, that the Arachnids would be eradicated within hours. What was surprising was that so few civilians and citizens realised just how much money was being spent and how many people were being recruited. Regular FedNet broadcasts continued to paint the Road to Victory as a foregone conclusion.
Dienes was no fool and was at least somewhat aware of the risks he was taking with the Road to Victory. While he was conﬁ dent that the Fleet could protect supply lines as the Mobile Infantry raced across the galaxy, he was less sure of their stability if the ﬁ ghting on Klendathu became a protracted battle rather than quick extermination. Thus, it was essential that enough ﬁ repower was massed in Klendathu orbit at zero hour to ensure a holocaust on the alien world that no bug could escape. Dienes believed the entire operation could be completed in less than twenty four hours from the ﬁ rst drop to the last bug dead.
Sky Marshal Dienes immediately ordered two million men total, mostly support and logistical personnel, to the Alpha Hydrae system. Within 6 months, the attack was prepared. Several armies across Federal space were clumped together to form Army Group Klendathu, a loose amalgamation with several overlapping jurisdictions and a logistical nightmare. Among the divisions within their respective armies and corps was the famed 1st MID, formed entirely of career soldiers. The 3rd Fleet would transport the majority of Army Group Klendathu with several elements of the 4th and 5th Fleet.
In total, ~4 million personnel were to land on Klendathu on several pivotal "security points" in order to establish a beachhead for further horde culling. The initial plan was to wage aggressive conventional warfare initially and then settle in defensive positions. The first six hours were planned extensively and meticulously - each unit was assigned a specific objective, specific point to reach within a time frame, and specific amount of ordnance at minimum to use in order to attract response. In most cases, these objectives were never even reached. A further 2 million were to land after a week.
The ignorance of Dienes' intelligence ministers at the time prevented an adequate amount of research to be performed - particularly in regards to plasma castes, which with further research would be discovered to be able to calculate orbital trajectories for their plasma bombardments and through telepathy direct their plasma bombardments more effectively than conventional gunners.
After meeting at a brown dwarf on the outskirts of the binary star system, the combined assets assembled in far orbit of Klendathu. Upon the orders of Sky Marshal Dienes through tachyon communications, attacks were commenced. Upon approach, massive direct plasma bombardments destroyed lightly-armored corvettes and heavily damaged several support vessels. Two Mobile Infantry Divisions were completely destroyed before even disembarking.
Within 30 minutes, around 700,000 troops were dumped off of their dropships from corvettes. Already, around 70,000 troopers had been declared dead. Several Mobile Infantry Divisions were wiped out entirely within minutes by plasma castes and massive numbers of arachnids. Within the first ten minutes, approximately 25,000 ground troops had been slaughtered, 100,000 troops died in the first hour alone. The Battle of Klendathu in total lasted for five hours, but many divisions retreated on the same dropships they came in on, ignoring orders to stay and fight. In total, eight total divisions were annihilated and failed to report back to Battle Station Ticonderoga, including the 1st Mobile Infantry Division. Several dropships left the atmosphere of the planet only to discover the ships that had been waiting to receive them were gone or destroyed. In the frantic attack and retreat phase, many dropship pilots simply ran out of fuel attempting to find vessels to land at. They were stranded in space. The last division to pull out of Klendathu consisted of nine men on a single dropship, the senior-most person aboard being a member of the division's first regiment, a Private part of the first echelon, and therefore in command due to laws of succession.A popular anecdote commonly used by opposition can be quoted by Captain John Murphy of the 99th Mobile Infantry Division during his publicized courts-martial,
"When we touched down on the desert floor in our LZ, we had arranged in a semi-circle pattern with the dropships so we could disembark as a crowd easier - strength in numbers, as we were taught. Instead of disembarking, the vessels across the way fell victim to arachnids tearing through the armor of their boats like a steak knife to butter. We could hear the crunching metal from inside our ship. They sliced their way through the crowds of men who ran out from the open off-ramps and the holes they had just freshly tore in the sides of the boats. The tearing was what most of us remember - the noise of them clawing through the crowds. Then it would rain, you know? You'd find some red muck in your hair after the battle and try to think it was jam or something. That sticks with most of us. Our pilot just took off - I couldn't stomach shooting him, everyone that day was retreating."Several tactical retreats were ordered within the first five minutes out of necessity. However, from what little ground forces remain, approximately 250,000 troops, they fought for five hours. Typically longevity correlated with combined arms and height advantage. By the fifth hour, only around 25,000 soldiers remained on the surface of Klendathu with untold amounts of wounded and missing.
After the final general retreat signal was sounded, vessels regrouped at Fleet Battlestation Ticonderoga. A period of two weeks was used to regroup and discover the aftermath. Of 900,000 total soldiers who managed to disembark at Klendathu, 514,354 casualties were reported. Less than .005% of which were wounded and recovered. Fleet personnel in orbit suffered 300,000 collective casualties but was not reported on or recorded as heavily due to the failure to keep statistics and interest in public safety.
The failure of Klendathu resulted in Sky Marshal Dienes resigning three days after. Military Intelligence in the months to follow would establish the Brain Bug Hypothesis, a turning point in the conflict. Many minor engagements which resulted in defeats were recorded but not often reported. Within 3 months of the defeat at Klendathu, Zegama Beach was destroyed.
The failure of Klendathu can thus be attributed to the following factors;
- Consideration of the Arachnid species as "pests" rather than a valid threat
- Failure to diagnose the extent of Arachnid territory
- Lack of planning
- Lack of combined arms
- Reliance on numbers