The Battle of Vermilion
- Episodes 50 - 54
The Battle of Vermilion was the decisive engagement of the first war between the Free Planets Alliance and the Galactic Empire in Space Year 799.Background
Shortly after the defeat of Admiral Wahlen, Reinhard von Lohengramm summoned all of his subordinates to a meeting where he set out his strategy where he would personally draw out and defeat Yang Wen-li once and for all.
His first order was for High Admiral Reuenthal to take his fleet to the Rio Bell sector, attack the Alliance supply base there, and secure the area. Reuenthal understood Reinhard's intent immediately, and blanched.
In a grand pretense, all of Reinhard's subordinates would take their fleets and attack various Alliance supply bases, leaving the Lohengramm Fleet isolated - an irresestible bait for Yang Wen-li to attack.
Müller objected, calling the plan too dangerous, and asked that his fleet be allowed to remain behind as well. Reinhard dismissed his worries, silencing him with a rhetorical question of whether he thought Reinhard would lose to Yang when they both had an equal number of ships.
Mittermeyer in turn thought it inappropriate for Yang, "only a solider commanding a fleet", to meet Reinhard in battle under equal conditions. Reinhard dismissed that argument as well, noting that both he and the newly promoted Yang were Fleet Admirals.
Reinhard then allayed his subordinates fears by setting out his tactics for the coming battle. He called for a thick pile of paper, and then poured some red wine on top of it. He then proceeded to pick up and discard sheet after sheet of the paper until he came upon a clean sheet - he would set so many defence lines, Yang would be unable to penetrate them all - buying time for all of Reinhard's Admirals to return and encircle him.
Following the meeting, Hildegard von Mariendorf went to Reinhard with an alternate plan - that they should merely attack Heinessen and force them to surrender, without fighting Yang. Reinhard refused to conque the Alliance without ever defeating Yang. Further, he told Hildegard that she would not be with him in the battle - with the dangers such as they were, she would be sent away, to wait for news of the victory.
On 6 April 799, the Yang Fleet, having received intelligence about the dispersal of the Imperial fleet, arrived at the Gandharva System. Yang had originally planned to begin his attack when the Imperial fleets reached their maximum defence perimeters - but if he waited for that, the Lohengramm Fleet would reach Heinessen first.The various Imperial fleets' dispersal pathsThe Lohengramm Fleet's projected arrival at Heinessen
Therefore, Yang would have to engage and defeat Reinhard sooner than planned, and at a point where it would be impossible for the other Imperial fleets to return quickly. Knowing it was a trap, Yang would attack anyway.
On 11 April, the Yang Fleet docked at an Alliance asteroid supply base, Rudmila, to take on supplies for the battle, and have some final R&R for the soldiers.Supply base RudmilaAn Alliance transport taking on supplies
Whilst on R&R, Yang took the opportunity to speak privately with Lt. Commander Frederica Greenhill - asking for her hand in marriage, to which she happily agreed.Arrival in Vermilion
The Yang Fleet arrived in the Vermilion System, with Yang giving orders to Vice Admiral Murai that the 125 billion cubic light-seconds around the system were to be divided into ten thousand sectors, with two thousand patrol units being assigned to them, to immediately ascertain when the Lohengramm Fleet entered the system.
Advance scout unit F0-2 detected the Lohengramm Fleet's arrival in the system, only 40.6 light seconds from the Alliance fleet.The Lohengramm Fleet arrives
The scout was detected by forward elements of the Lohengramm Fleet under Vice Admiral Rolf Otto Brauhitz
, who tracked the scout's path in order to find the Alliance main fleet.
With their position determined, Reinhard ordered his troops to take three hours of R&R - there being no risk of surprise with the Yang Fleet's position known. Vice Admiral Murai gave the same R&R orders to the Alliance troops.
Mindful of the return of Reinhard's subordinates (the first of whom to return probably being the Gale Wolf, High Admiral Mittermeyer), Yang ordered a the fleet to take a tight formation and lure the enemy into close quarters battle. Their advantage was that they only needed to destroy one ship, the Brunhild
. Duke Lohengramm would have to destroy Yang's entire fleet.Battle commences
Battle was joined at 1420 hours on 24 April 799. To start, both Reinhard and Yang were extremely conservative with their tactics, fearing some sort of trick or novel strategem on the part of his opponent.First shotsTriglav and Airged LamhMissile fire being exchanged
However, against both their wishes, the battlespace soon began to expand, testing command and control. On both sides, front line commanders asked for orders on how to proceed. Both Reinhard and Yang were frustrated with their subordinates for not making command decisions in accordance with their individual situations.Vice Admiral Brauhitz' flagship SindriAn Imperial gunship carrier deploying its craft...And being destroyed in the processThe Hyperion pulls back, a shot glancing off its forward shields
With communications being jammed, Reinhard relayed his orders via shuttles that had been prepared beforehand. Vice Admiral Thurneysen
took Reinhard's orders as giving him free reign - even though he had not received firing orders, and was directly behind the Brauhitz Fleet, which was engaged at the front line.Thurneysen's flagship Theodoricus
He therefore decided to join the battle at the front line and kill Yang Wen-li with his own hands.
Thurneysen's arrival on the front line sent Brauhitz' formation into disorder, infuriating Brauhitz.
Yang reacted quickly, firing on both clustered fleets and inflicting heavy damage on both.Hyperion pours on the fire
Reinhard was furious. High Admiral Oberstein remarked sardonically that Thurneysen - a very outspoken and boastful young officer - could only see what was right in front of him, and was a man to stay away from. Reinhard could only reply that if he survived the battle, he would take Oberstein's advice."His voice reaches far, but his eyes can only see what's right in front of him."Thurneysen withdraws as Brauhitz advancesAnd is then much reduced
After a shuttle was sent and Thurneysen withdrew, Brauhitz' Fleet was lured into Yang's formation and suffered heavy losses. Vice Admiral Brauhitz kept his head, and was able to put up effective resistance nonetheless.Sindri holds the line and destroys an enemy battleshipCarnage of battle inflicted on Imperial and Alliance soldiers
By this point, it was 26 April 799. With combat approaching its third day, both fleets broke off combat. Yang lamented his situation - he needed more ships. Even 3,000 more ships would be sufficient.
On 27 April, Yang reoganized his forces and ordered a blitzkrieg. They succceeded in breaking through the first line of defence. Yang immediately realized it had been too easy.
Commodore Marino's squadron broke through the next defence line - only for another layer of defence to appear in front of him.Commodore Marino's flagship Muh'wäse"Dammit! How many layers of defence do they have?!"
By 29 April 799, the Yang Fleet had broken through the eigth layer of Reinhard's defence - with no end in sight. High Admiral Merkatz likened it to peeling the layers off an onion. With no advantage in stopping, Yang had no choice but to continue.
At this point, Julian Mintz offered up his thoughts on Lohengramm's tactics. He reasoned that his intent was to slowly chip away at Yang's endurance - both materially and mentally. Mintz argued that Reinhard's seemingly never-ending defence lines weren't coming at them from the front, as they appeared to be - if they had been, they would have been picked on on sensors, and Reinhard would have difficulty assessing changes in the combat situation.
Rather, the path between their fleet and the Brunhild was technically clear - the Imperial forces were position to either side, like thin cards - drifting in front of the Alliance fleet as it advanced.Reinhard's sheets of paper
Julian's reasoning was correct. Reinhard had organized his forces into twenty-four defensive lines. Each wall, once penetrated, retreated to the rear (just in front of Reinhard's own force), reorganized its formation, and prepared a new defensive line. In this way, Reinhard had a seemingly endless series of defensive lines.
Yang found Julian's reasoning sound, and began to think. At the same time, fighter combat was breaking out between the fleets, with Commander Poplin and Konev being sent out to meet the Imperial squadrons from the latest Imperial line.Horst Schürer's Valkyrie
The Alliance squadrons took heavy losses - the tactics of Imperial ace Horst Schürer
saw them herded towards Imperial warships, which devastated them with main gun fire.Spartanians sent into cruiser fire and destroyedPoplin evades the enemy by hugging a battleship's hull
In the course of the dogfight, Commander Konev was killed by fire from an Imperial cruiser. Yang pulled them back to the fleet on Murai's recommendation.
After the next defence line was broken through, Yang set his plan into motion, withdrawing his fleet by 800,000km to an asteroid belt.Yang pulling back, from the Imperial point of view
On 30 April, the Imperial fleet detected the enemy moving out fo the asteroid field, pulling hard to the port flank. Sensors estimated enemy strength at 10,000 ships. Reinhard speculated that Yang was trying to spread out the Imperial forces, but the main issue was whether those ships were his main fleet. Oberstein reasoned that since Yang had allowed them to see it, it was probably a decoy - but he couldn't discount the possibility it was their main force.
Reinhard agreed that in either case, spreading out their forces in response to the move would be foolish. Reinhard, always prideful, had been exercising an extraordinary level of patience in maintaining his defensive lines for such a long period - he decided it was a ploy by Yang to move his forces, and ordered his fleet to combine and turn to port with the intent of destroying them."We'll take them head on, and punch them in the nose!"
The fleet of Vice Admiral Welner Aldringen
brought up the front of the Imperial formation, and was the first to enter firing range. At that point, the recon image of the Alliance force expanded - revealing that it was mostly a collection of construction ships towing tethered convoys of large asteroids.Vice Admiral Dietrich Saucken realizes the deception
Before they had a chance to react, the fleets of Vice Admiral Attenborough and Vice Admiral Morton moved in to cut off their retreat.The Triglav and the Achilleus
The Imperial fleet then rushed to protect Lohengramm's force, turning 180 degrees to attack Yang's force, which was in the process of advancing on Lohengramm's own force. Commodore Marino's squadron, which had been responsible for the asteroid lure, moved out and charged the Imperial fleet. Sindri turnsMuh'wäse moves to intercept
The construction ships also joined in - blasting their engines and releasing their tethered asteroids, sending them smashing through the Imperial lines.Construction ships lob asteroids at the Imperial fleet
The Imperial fleet seemingly was about to break through the flank of Yang's fleet - but only for a moment. Yang turned his ships 90 degrees and concentrated fire as the Alliance forces closed off their rear. The vast majority of the Imperial fleet was encircled from all sides, and began to be taken apart.The situation looked initially much better ......than it actually was
Seperated from his forces, a detachment of the Alliance fleet made for the Brunhild, blasting through the Brunhild's defenders.Reinhard looks on his impending defeat
Rear Admiral Streit had a shuttle prepared and urged Reinhard to evacuate. He scoffed - saying that he saw no need to retreat, and if he ran away from Yang now, all the men he had killed would laugh at him from Valhalla. Streit signalled to Kissling, who appeared to be ready to physically seize Reinhard and evacuate him."Is it to be victory upon victory, only to suffer defeat at the very end?"
The Brunhild was then rocked as the battleships shielding her from Alliance fire were destroyed. Under the guns of an enemy battleship, Reinhard appeared ready to meet his fate, when the battleship exploded.
It was 2 May, and the Müller Fleet had arrived earlier than expected. Müller arrives"Protect Duke Lohengramm!"
Ironically, the Müller Fleet, once it arrived at the Alliance supply base in the Lycus System
on 24 April, was not met with resistance. The base commander, Aubry Coquelin
, negotiated with Müller for a peaceful takeover, provided that the supplies in the base be used for the benefit of Alliance civilians, narrowly avoiding a mutiny by his own men in the process. Though he had the best of intentions, he inadvertently cost Yang Wen-li his chance to kill Duke Reinhard.
Soon after the takeover had been effected, Müller received the news that the battle had commenced. Müller left an administrative staff behind and made best speed for Vermilion - his haste was such that he arrived with only his fastest ships, 60% of his fleet."That was a terrible oversight, not figuring in Müller.""Miracle Yang will show us another trick."
Müller cut into Yang's formation, inflicting heavy losses.Vice Admiral Morton
tried his utmost to press ahead to reach the Brunhild
, but in the space of only an hour, his fleet had taken 60% losses - 2,000 ships. Morton himself was soon killed when his flagship Achilleus
was destroyed.The death of Vice Admiral Morton
Both Reinhard and Yang were deeply impressed with Müller's abilities. Whilst the Yang Fleet was starting to run out of energy and missiles, Reinhard's forces were still encircled.Vice Admiral Grünemann is pinned under a column when his battleship Vigrid is hit
Amongst the encircled Imperial forces, Vice Admiral Carnap managed to get in touch with the Brunhild, and requested reinforcements. Reinhard responded he had none to give, and told him to die there, in battle.Carnap's battleship Hermodr"Die, he says?! Fine, I will! If I die, I'll reach Valhalla first, and you'll be the one running errands for me, Reinhard von Lohengrramm!"
Carnap ordered his ships full speed ahead to where the Müller fleet was concentrating its fire, to break out of the siege.
Yang deliberately let Carnap escape. As the Alliance ring opened, Müller rushed forward to rescue his allies. As the fleets joined, Yang opened fire on both, inflicting heavy damage. Vice Admiral Carnap was killed.The Müller and Carnap fleets under heavy bombardmentCarnap's death
In the process, Müller's flagship Lübeck took critical damage. With its fusion reactor breached, Müller ordered all hands to abandon ship. The Lübeck is lost
Müller transferred his flag to the battleship Neustadt
. However, it too was hit by Alliance fire, and lost navigational capability. It was abandoned and then destroyed. He next transferred his flag to the battleship Offenburg
, and two hours later to the battleship Herten
, carrying on a brave defence throughout.
Nevertheless, Yang had successfully dealt with Müller's arrival on the battlefield. After rebuilding his formation and making new plans, at 22:40 on 5 May, the Brunhild
finally came under the guns of the Hyperion
.Brunhild in Hyperion's sights
The moment before Yang gave the order to fire, an emergency message from Heinsessen arrived, ordering unconditional surrender.
Schönkopf begged Yang to fire."Ignore those orders from the government, and order a full assault! Then you will have seized three things: Duke Lohengramm's life, the history of the universe, and the future! Harden your resolve. If you would only go forward, then you can put the history of the universe on its proper course!"
Yang ordered the fleet to retreat, and requested a ceasefire from Duke Lohengramm. To the last, he was a soldier of a democracy, and would never ignore orders from his government to court military rule.
For his part, Reinhard was incensed, calling Yang's abandonment of victory madness.Hildegard von Mariendorf, saviour of the Empire
After leaving Reinhard's fleet prior to the battle, Hildegard von Mariendorf had made for the Eleuthera system, where the Mittermeyer Fleet had been sent- arriving on 2 May.Beowulf and her fleet over a captured Alliance baseHildegard's Small Fast Ship
Ms Mariendorf advised Mittermeyer that it was already too late to help Reinhard at Vermilion - though one ship could arrive in time, a large fleet would take at least four days (i.e. Mittermeyer, if he left immediately, would arrive on 6 May). Prior to her arrival, she had gauged the battle situation and decided that, Alliance aggressiveness being what it was, Duke Lohengramm would be defeated before that.
However - the Mittermeyer Fleet was only two days away from Heinessen. With the Alliance committing all its forces to Vermilion, it was probably undefended. She proposed atttacking Heinessen and making the Alliance government order Yang to stop fighting.
Mittermeyer's only reservation was that Yang may not obey the government's orders, kill Reinhard, and seize power for himself. Mariendorf noted that if he wanted to seize power, he had passed up plenty of chances. Though she called it despicable, Yang's ideals would have to be used against him.
On balance, Mittermeyer agreed with her plan. But he noted he could not go alone - if he attacked Heinessen by himself, he would be suspected of having political ambition. High Admiral Reuenthal, his closest friend, was in the neighboring system, and could easily be communicated with.
Rear Admiral Bayerlein expressed concern that the plan could result in battle if Reuenthal didn't agree with the plan. Mittermeyer replied that he was not the sort of person to be friends with an unreasonable man for 10 years. Notwithstanding, Bayerlein had his fleet assume extraordinary defensive measures, which didn't go unnoticed by the Reuenthal Fleet."Have I made men of extraordinary ambition and talent realize what an extraordinary opportunity this is?"
Reuenthal agreed to go along with the plan, and the two fleets combined. Reuenthal went to the Beowulf, to allay any fears that Bayerlein, "that bloodhound", might assume that Reuenthal would do Mittermeyer harm.Attack on Heinessen
On 5 May, the "pillars of the Empire" arrived at Heinessen with their combined force of over 30,000 ships.The statue of Ale Heinessen, founder of the Free Planets Alliance, in Heinessenopolis
"This is the Imperial High Admiral Wolfgang Mittermeyer speaking. The airspace above your capital is under our military control. I demand dialogue with the government of the Free Planets Alliance. Cease all military action, and stand down. Otherwise, we will commence a full assault on Heinessen. You have three hours to consider. In the meantime, enjoy this demonstration.
"Beowulf in orbitThe Strategical Planning Centre's defence systems launch
The Strategical Planning Centre's defence systems had barely launched their missiles before it was wiped out by the Beowulf
Mittermeyer commented that people in power wouldn't care if the homes of ordinary people were destroyed - but the destruction of government building would make the blood drain from their faces.
Ms Mariendorf also had another message sent - that if they surrendered, their highest ranking officials would not be prosecuted.
In Heinessenopolis, Job Trunicht, as Chairman of the High Council, decided to agree to the Empire's demands, giving their threat of an all-out attack as justification. Walter Islands tried to object, but was silenced when Trunicht aired all of his political dirty laundry. Trunicht also denounced Fleet Admiral Yang as a "moron", saying that if he hadn't destroyed the Artemis Necklace during the civil war, then they would not be under attack.
Fleet Admiral Bucock also objected, giving an impassioned speech about the demise of democracy in the Alliance. Finally, he got up and went to grab Trunicht, with the intent of stopping him. Before he could lay hands on him, troops burst in - along with armed members of the Earth Church. Islands collapsed, and Bucock was placed under arrest.Bucock is arrestedPlans for the future
During the ceasefire, Yang made several arrangements. First, he had High Admiral Merkatz and Commander Schneider leave the fleet - asking them to take ships, supplies and men with them. He could not guarantee that Alliance military power would stay intact, and so Merkatz would take them for when they were needed. Yang compared his task to that of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest. The Empire would be unlikely to verify whether those ships had been destroyed in battle or self-destructed. Similarly, High Admiral Merkatz would be reported dead. Commander Olivier Poplin and Kasper Linz of the Rosen Ritter also accompanied him.
Before the other Imperial fleets returned, Merkatz departed with only 60 ships and 11,820 men - all of them being listed as killed in action.Aftermath
After he learned what happened, Reinhard commented, smiling, that it was shameful that the victory he had achieved was not his, but was handed to him - "just like a beggar".The Vermilion star and the refuse of the battle
The Battle of Vermillion had lasted twelve days. The Imperial fleet had suffered 87.2% losses, with 72% casualties. The Alliance fleet had suffered 81.6% losses, with 73.7% casualties. Together, both sides had lost 2.5 million men.
In terms of battle capable ships, the Yang Fleet only had 3,000 remaining by the time the Imperial fleets returned to Duke Lohengramm.
Neither side believed themselves the victor. Strategically, the Imperial forces were victorious, whilst the Alliance was tactically victorious, but both Yang and Reinhard appraised the other's victory higher than their own.Reinhard and Yang meet
At 2300 hours on 6 May 799, Yang departed the Hyperion
in a shuttle for the Brunhild
Over a cup of tea in Reinhard's chambers, Yang and Reinhard met for the first time. Reinhard's first question after the exchange of pleasantries was an offer for Yang to serve him as an Imperial Fleet Admiral.
Yang refused - though he expressed his great admiration for Reinhard's leadership, he was not an Imperial citizen, and his loyalty was to democracy alone. A discussion on various topics ensued, including the merits of autocracy and democracy.
Fleet Admiral Bucock had a message sent to the Imperial fleet, requesting that he be the sole subject of Duke Lohengramm's wrath. Yang asked that he not be permitted to assume that burden alone, but he need not have bothered - Reinhard did not consider himself a vengeful man. There would be no blood spilled now that the fighting was over.
The meeting ended on good terms, with Yang saying he would go home and retire.Alliance affairs
On 12 May 799, the Imperial fleet arrived on Heinessen. As he stepped off the Brunhild, Reinhard was again proclaimed Kaiser by his men.
Meeting with Mittermeyer and Reuenthal at the Alliance High Council meeting, they reported that the Imperial court-in-exile had dissolved. Count Remscheidt had committed suicide in the process of being apprehended. Baron Alfred Lansburg had kidnapped the young Erwin Josef II, and fled with him. All the other conspirators were arrested.
Oberstein advised that it was too early to dismantle the Alliance and place it under direct Imperial rule. The approach taken by the Empire was to force the Alliance to disarm, and then recognize a facade of autonomy. Further, the Empire would pursue policies to impoverish the Alliance - with Alliance military spending so curtailed, the Alliance economy was bound to rebound, risking them becoming a second Fezzan.Alliance personnel
Yang, Attenborough, Schönkopf and Bucock's retirement notices were accepted. Vice Admiral Alex Cazerne's was rejected - due to the need for administrators, he was promoted to head of Logistics and Support. Admiral Rockwell was promoted to Commander of the Armed Forces. Admiral Chung Wu-Chen was appointed acting secretary of the Alliance fleet.The Treaty of Barlat
The Treaty of Barlat (named after the star which Heinessen orbited) - which formalized the arrangements between the Empire and the Alliance, was executed on 25 May 799. A key term of the treaty provided that the Alliance was to dismantle all of its battleships and spacecraft carriers.Oberstein and Trunicht at the signing of the Treaty of Barlat
After signing the treaty, Job Trunicht announced he would take responsibility for the defeat, and resign. When the circumstances of the surrender became known throughout the Alliance public, the citizenry turned their anger from the Empire to Trunicht, with mass demonstrations and riots.
With Trunicht gone and Islands sick, João Rebelo took over leadership of the Alliance.Imperial pesonnel
The Alliance turned over three star systems to direct Imperial control. The Imperial fleet in Alliance territory was stationed at Urvashi, with Admiral Steinmetz appointed its commander. The position of overall Imperial consul for Alliance territory was given to Admiral Lennenkampt. Lennenkampt had not been Reinhard's first choice - he had wanted Reuenthal's talent in that role. However, Oberstein recommended they be kept at home, to strengthen the troops (in truth, his real motivation was to keep Reuenthal where he could keep an eye on him).
Oberstein was not keen on Reinhard's choice of Lennenkampt either - thinking him too much a military man, and likely to be too harsh given his loss to Yang Wen-li. Reinhard noted simply that if Lennenkampt failed, he would be removed, and the Alliance would be punished for any transgressions.
In a display of sheer shamelessness, Job Trunicht requested a meeting with Reinhard, asking for not only guarantees that his life and property would not be harmed, but asking to live in the Empire and to be given a post. Thoroughly disgusted with him, Reinhard refused to meet him, but granted his requests, if only to ensure that the Empire kept its promise that the leadership not be held responsible.
In the following days, Reinhard eventually came to terms with the events of Vermilion, and thanked Hildegard von Mariendorf for saving his life.
Mittermeyer and Reuenthal were both promoted to the rank of full Fleet Admiral.The Goldenlöwe Dynasty is Born
On 20 June 799, Duke Lohengramm returned to Odin. Baron Jurenph von Pernitz, the regent for the 1 year and 8 months old Kaiserin, abdicated the throne on the Kaiserin's behalf.
22 June was Reinhard's day of ascension as the new Kaiser of the Galactic Empire, and his coronation.
Before he took the crown, for the briefest moment he thought he saw the two people he most wanted to be there.Kaiser Reinhard von Lohengramm
Space Year 799 became the first year of the New Imperial Calendar.