Ral'Parthia

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Ral'Parthia is a chain of islands in the Counterweize Region. Originally called Geth, the character of the island changed dramatically during the early part of the New Day.

History

Geth

Ancient History

Evidence exists for a large, well-organized pre-dynastic culture. Ruins found all over the island display both a commonality of form and a high degree of sophistication. However, aside from a cursory survey of structures still present on the surface, no widespread archaeological studies were ever made.

Dynastic Era

During the Dynastic Period, Geth became a Marconian stronghold and was used primarily as a breeding site for war wizards. Interestingly, little evidence exists for visits to and from the mainland; instead, Geth was supplied inter-dimensionally via the Phase-Shift method. Marconian aristocrats wishing to visit the island would travel from Lake Bentika to another world, then back, to reach Geth. Though Bentika is commonly accepted by historians, many theorize Geth to have been the actual birthplace of Gnarra Yoff.

The stronghold at Geth was destroyed in 901 B.G.A. by Lelerough, and never rebuilt.

Second Chaotic Era

The site was visited several times during the Second Chaotic Period by treasure hunters. Rumors persisted of powerful weapons and artifacts left behind by the Marcons, and it's probable many were found there. Very little record of these visits survive, but one account around 150 B.G.A. tells of a local 'tribe' thought to be descended from the survivors of Lelerough's attack. They lived mostly off fish and their numbers were very few, but all of them possessed a strange ancestral magic that allowed them to affect water.

Modern Period

Golden Age

The first real expedition to Geth was ordered by Eieber, and millitarstic in nature. At great expense, an army of 3,000 fighters, 1,000 war horses, and 300 paladins were dispatched to "rout out and destroy any last vestiges of the hated Marcons". The force spent two years exploring the islands, finding them devoid of inhabitants. The commander of the forces famously reported that "In the interior there is not enough water to drown a witch, nor trees to light a fire".

The expedition became famous for its timing. They departed Iami in 1 B.G.A. and returned A.Y. 11, having missed the change of an Age completely. Though historians writing later would call them "The Lost Contingent" it was in fact well-known at the time that the war would probably be over by the time they returned, and Eieber suspected they would encounter little resistance.

The first real scientific expedition visited seven years later, in A.Y. 18. This was the large-scale survey of surface features, based on crude maps brought back by the soldiers. This expedition identified three distinct phases of habitation, and were the first to observe the pre-Marconian ruins. The expedition leader, Ramious Tembo, had grand designs of a large-scale archaeological mission and a permanent colony. The well-preserved site, he thought, could provide a wealth of valuable information. Unfortunately, his efforts required funding, and the state of archaeology at the time meant there was more money to be made in searching for buried treasure than meticulous study.

Several more expeditions followed, and significant finds of Marconian statuary and funeral equipment were brought back. A well-preserved fresco of a stylized Bentika was the most valuable find. It sold well at auction, but was bought by the Gudersnipe Foundation, which promptly destroyed it.

By the end of the first century of the Golden Age, the Marconian sites were thought to be played out, and a serious attempt at colonization began. At the time the state of the art in marine technology was still wooden sailing ships. The first wave of colonists found the growing season short, the soil poor, and despite ample rainfall finding enough water was a constant problem. The winters proved to be far harsher than anyone had anticipated, and the colony was abandoned after just three years.

For the next few centuries, the only inhabitants were a single fishing and whaling village, that operated primarily as a supply depot for ships. Nearly all food had to be imported, and while they were able to collect enough water, it was not easy. As sailpower gave way to steam and finally diesel, the village fell into disuse, and for the last forty years a single solitary man lived alone, manning the water pumping station for the five to ten ships which stopped by each year.

By A.Y. 1400, Geth was abandoned.

Third Age

Following the Necromanic Wars, the Tripartite Powers of Iami sought to revitalize their economy. Having been ravaged heavily by the wars, it was thought that by developing Geth into an economic and agricultural region. Most importantly, land could be gifted to form large estates, which were thought to be vital to economic recovery. Weather patterns had shifted since the Golden Age, and the once cold and forbidding wasteland was billed as a tropical paradise.

The program, however, was not successful. While the climate was now hot and rainy, the same problems with hydrology and poor soil persisted. Native plants thrived, but collecting it to irrigate fields proved nearly impossible. The ground was like a seize, any water that couldn't be draped simply fell away into the Duat. Another issue plaguing the island ground was a lack of good anchorage. Most of the islands had only narrow beaches and high escarpments, with no natural harbors. The old port used by the fishing fleet in the First Age had silted up completely, and would not have been large enough to accommodate modern ships.

At great expense, a deep-water port was constructed by building a breakwater and a peer. The shelf around Geth fell away rapidly, so the only viable location was far from ideal. The port itself could never handle the necessary volume of goods going in and out, and the technology of the time made constructing a real deep water harbor a practical impossibility. Still, the island was divided into parcels and distributed to the families of officers who had fought in the war. Many, uninterested in relocating, sold their parcels, and when the first reports came back of conditions on the island, values plummeted. At one point, each of the three main islands were owned entirely by one of three families.

After ten years, and having never grown enough food to feed the population, the colonization program was declared a failure. Most of the work force left; the population dropped from 3 million in A.Y. 3396 to just 10,000 in 3397. Geth was declared a "remote autonomous region", with the Tripartite powers ruling no further government subsidization would occur. The remaining landowners styled themselves as kings or barons, able to make and enforce whatever rules they saw fit.

Tava(a type of bean) and Moppet(a type of moss) were the only commercial crops that grew well on Geth. However, the costs of exporting the products left profit margins razor-thin. The locals began to issue their own currency, but still the cost of importing goods was simply too great. The ruling powers used accrued debt to force workers into virtual slavery, ensuring non could leave. The few landowners appeared quite wealthy, but in reality they suffered just as much from the harsh conditions.

Towards the middle of the Third Age, the Alliance sent a humanitarian mission to check on conditions in Geth. Iami was by now a strong member of the Alliance, and though the government had made no efforts to support habitation on Geth, the Alliance as whole felt it was important. They discovered a bleak and miserable society ran by a cruel and petty despot, where most of the populous lived on a starvation diet in virtual slavery. There were only about 30,000 residents. The land-owners were removed and most jailed, and the land given to the residents that worked it. Able to focus more on growing food than on crops for export, conditions slowly improved, and by the 3700s Geth was a autonomous agricultural region. Life was still hard and modern comforts rare, but the locals lived well enough.

In A.Y. 3701, Geth formally declared it's independence from Iami and joined the Alliance in it's own right. By this time, the locals had perfected farming techniques and a complex water management system that ensured a steady food supply. Though exports were still hampered by the lack of a deep-water port. For over a century, the inhabitants of Geth had gotten by through careful cooperation and sharing. When an independent government was finally established, it was based on the ideals of socialism. Geth had a strong national identity by this time as a unified force working to eek out a living. This ideology carried over, with many socialized programs for the sharing of resources such as food and water.

Though getting enough to eat was no longer a challenge, the average life expectancy in Geth was still just 57 years. The region lacked any form of modern medicine, and the vast majority of residents lived without electricity or running water. With membership in the Alliance came access to off-world finance, and the newly-formed government sought to pull it's people out of poverty. They borrowed heavily from various monetary funds with grand designs on excavating an artificial harbor. Geth had long been known the harbor significant mineral wealth, but had never had the capacity to exploit it. This attracted investors, and the idea that Geth could be built up into an industrial power became a strong motivator.

Most of the money was invested in social programs, importing modern technology and medicine at exorbitant expense. A project to build a real harbor was very seriously undertaken, but the population lacked both the expertise and the manpower to complete it. Bringing in foreign labor was simply not an option. The population at the time was only about 80,000, and while they had adequate food and water, it was just barely so. The harbor, which would have to be dug at great expense from 200 feet above sea level, was estimated to need at least 30,000 skilled workers, all of whom would have to subsist on imported food.

The project forged ahead, and managed to consume ten times it's projected budget without ever moving a single shovel full of dirt. Most of the money went to repeated surveys, as often as not carried out by unskilled farmers and fishermen. Some did go to repairing the old breakwater, but the peer could not be reconstructed. Any imports being brought ashore had to be loaded on to smaller boats and brought in through ten foot breakers. This made for dangerous, labor-intensive, and costly work to get anything ashore.

In A.Y. 3732, the Gudersnipe Foundation carried out an areal survey of the islands, and located a possible solution. In the straights separating the three large islands, the water was still quite deep. The Foundation had had good luck in other regions constructing ports by building a peer onto a small island and a bridge to shore. They reasoned that this could be done for comparatively low cost and allow for large-scale containerization, which would make imports and exports considerably cheaper. Constructing such a port would still be expensive, and only the Foundation had the tools and expertise to do it, but they offered to undertake the project in exchange for land and mineral rights. Despite the intense need for the port, the Geth government refused, siting that 'the land belongs to all the people'. Based on the Foundation's description, they made attempts to construct such a port themselves, but like the excavated port they simply lacked the expertise or money. Again the project consumed vast sums of money without ever laying a single stone.

By the 3740s, Geth had begun borrowing money to pay back it's creditors. There was still no sign of a real port in sight, and they had begun defaulting on loans. Quite a lot of money had been given to the country based on speculation about it's mineral reserves. When the port failed to materialize, investors began sending independent geologists to the region. Many came back with reports that while there were significant deposits, exploiting them would only be profitable if done on a very large scale. The leading creditors then delivered an ultimatum: Geth was to complete the construction of a port within two years, or default on the loan.

The Third Day of the Third Month of A.Y. 3743 would come to be known locally as "judgement day". The government had failed to build the demanded port, and manged only to create a few very small artificial harbors for fishing boats. The loans had come due, and Geth was given a choice: sell the land and mineral rights outright, or withdraw from the Alliance. They chose the latter, allowing them to escape payment entirely on the massive debts they had accrued. By the end of the decade, the government had collapsed, and Geth fell into anarchy.

The Great Excursion saw the population drop from 80,000 in 3750 to 20,000; as residents fled famine and widespread unemployment. The bubble had burst, and there was no more borrowed money to pay for things. The few remaining holdouts managed to eek a living by subsistence fishing and farming. Though still nominally an independent nation, Geth had been declared a rogue state. Any new government which attempted to form would be required to repay the debts left by the old. The remaining population broke down into hundreds of isolated fishing villages.

Resurgence

In A.Y. 3882, an interesting political figure emerged. Obadaih Chan, the major of a fishing village with just 600 residents, declared himself to be the legitimate president of "The Free and Democratic State of Geth". He traveled to Iami and eventually to Arindell, where he began to campaign for having all of Geth's debts forgiven. Chan was a various curious individual, charismatic and well-spoken, he appeared at many high-profile political functions in Arindell, and met with top leaders of the Alliance. All the while, he was in fact living on the streets. Because of his high profile, he could not risk begging or using shelters where he might be recognized. To appear clean and well-groomed, he would break in to empty houses to shower and steal clothes.

Several prominent residents took pity on Chan, and provided him with lodgings. He became a minor celebrity, and even when he true lack of political clout was revealed, he retained the respect he had earned. "Everyone talks about changing the world. I just decided to go out and do it.". Chan spent over ten years in Arindell, and eventually succeeded in having all of the former government of Geth's debts forgiven or severely reduced. Several of the major financial institutions requested at least a token payment, which were made by Chan's benefactors in Arindell.

Chan returned to Geth a national hero, and spent the rest of his life trying to rebuild the nation. He was well aware it could never hope to regain what had passed for it's former glory, but with some international aid, the string of tiny fishing villages were connected by roads, and a handful of vehicles brought in to help move food and fuel around. The fishery around the island was quite productive, and by making use of private loans, many fishermen were able to buy modern boats and sell their catch in Iami and Boot.

By the close of the Third Age, Geth had a stable population of some 50,000. Life was still hard, but for the first time since it's inception, the nation was actually self-sufficient.

Fourth Age

Geth's fortunes would turn again in the early-mid Fourth Age as changing weather patterns brought about the collapse of the fishery. The locals attempted to turn first to mining and later to tourism, exploiting the many ancient ruins that dotted region. This wasn't enough, and the population fell again. It had become common practice to send children as teenagers out to Iami to be educated, and many did not return. The Lost Generation of Geth was so amed when the fishery collapsed and families could not afford to bring their children back. This caused a vital age-cliff some decades later as they resumed subsistence fishing and farming to get by.

By the 3r century of the 4th age, the population was estimated to be just 40,000, with most living as semi-nomadic fishermen and herdsmen. The Church of the Cardinal Star launched a series of missions to bring medicine and faith to the island, and helped those seeking a better life to emigrate. The shifting weather patterns had turned Geth back into a cold and forbidding wasteland.

Interest in mining returned, and with advancements in technology many companies thought that they could get enough equipment in and ore out through the small fishing ports to make the venture worthwhile. This banrupted most companies that tried, though one succeeded in turning a small profit by constructing a tin smelting operation locally. The mine played out quickly, but it was discovered the ancient crops of Moppet had adapted to the climate and now grew extraordinarily well in the wild. The tin smelting plant was converted into an industrial chemical factory, and valuable exports of compounds derived from Moppet began to flow.

Around the factory sprang up Geth's first real city since the socialist republic, and topped 100,000 by the end of the 5th century. The natural reserve of moppet did eventually give out, but the locals could cultivate it easily enough. This made production less profitable, and any time the plant needed to invest in new equipment it caused a massive financial hardship, but the industry was enough to support the fledgling region.

Rest of the Alliance Period

Throughout the rest of the Alliance era, Geth remained a remote and seldom-discussed backwater. The export of chemicals derived from moppet became most valuable during the Kamian Succession Wars, and interest in developing the region briefly returned. The population was found to be stable at 300,000, though changing weather patterns had forced them to addapt repeatedly. Most lived as subsistence hunters, fishers, or farmers, many all three. The profits from chemical sales paid for a reasonable standard of living, but most citizens did not have east access to medical care and could not afford it if they did.

In the late Sixth Age, talks resumed to grant mineral rights to the Gudersnipe Foundation in exchange for finally constructing deepwater ports. Negotiations were serious, this time, as the modern government saw it as the only way to end two millenia of poverty. A construction date was in the process of being set when the Long Night fell.

Long Night

When the Long Night began, Geth was left completely isolated. No markets to sell their exports, no fuel to run their fishing boats. It is thought that a famine killed much of the population, and the one city was left abandoned within a generation. The harsh climate destroyed the few remaining modern conveniences very quickly, and the isolated population regressed technologically. Geth had been developing a unique culture for quite some time, and in the wake of the collapse of the Alliance, only the heartiest and most self-sufficient of it's population survived.

The remaining population living mostly on the interior, with isolated fishing settlements on the coast in the summer months. They were semi-nomadic, moving between permanent settlements with the shifting weather. The religion blended elements of Cardinalism with shamanic practices derived from the cycles of nature. Inspired by the many ancient ruins that still dotted the islands, the locals began to build a deep and rich mythology.

By perhaps a thousand years after the fall of the Long Night, the civilization that survived looked nothing like what had once been. Harsh weather had destroyed the last artificial harbors, leaving the locals to resort to line fishing off the coast. Travel between the three major islands became impossible, which caused many distinct cultures to develop in isolation from each other. The few survivors had formed nomadic tribes. They ahd lost all ability to produce medal and forgotten entirely what once was. Whole new languages developed seperate from one another, and tools were made from stone or bone.

The ever-shifting weather patterns caused the cold wasteland to transform once again into a dense forest. By the second millenium, a few of the tribes had even begun to build stone structures of their own. Shelters, some, but mostly temples and ritual sites. Many even re-discovered ancient ritual sites left over from the Marcons, and some magic was found again. The tribes began to fight with one another, and it is known that a long and brutal war shaped the population. Still, by the end of the Long Night, they had become experts at surviving in unforgiving Geth, and the population stood at close to 3 million, larger than it had ever been since the time of the Marcon Alliance.

Ral'Parthia

Ethnic Cleansing in Serpentia

During the Long Night, a group of people called Ral were brought to Serpentia and Shenzen to work in Samuel Fate's few industrial centers, drawn from existing industrial regions because they had the skills needed to build new factories and refineries. However, they brought with them a secret religion which did not mesh especially well with the bastardized secretive versions of Cardinalism under Fate's regime.

Through the millennia, the Ral maintained a sort of specialized status. During the Long Night in Serpentia, you either worked as a slave in the mines, a slave on the collective farms, or if you were very lucky got to live in one of the factory cities and work. With no formal education, most workers learned trades from their parents, and as such Ralians had a virtual monopoly on the highly skilled jobs.

This led to very deep-seated disdain for the Ral, who even after living among the locals for so long, were still hated. They were painted as collaborators, willing workers for Fate's brutal regime, and were the subject of considerable discrimination. When Fate was destroyed, new governments quickly sprang up to fill the power vacuum. The Ral had always been a minority, if a fairly large one, and with what passed for democracy, the color of their skin and different beliefs were enough to set them apart.

In the year that would later be known as N.D. 9, the newly-formed free governments of nations across Serpentia and Shenzen embarked upon a campaign to rid themselves of "undesirables". The Ral were the main target of the cleansing, but any other groups deemed 'unfit' were targeted as well. Originally, in Serpentia, the plan had been to round up every ethnic Ral and put them to work as forced labor, "turning the tables" as it were. However, with war looming against neighboring Foundation-controlled Modia, a more expedient solution was proposed.

In late N.D. 9, with winter fast approaching, the Ralian ghettos were emptied out, their inhabitants herded onto ships, and hastily rushed across the sea to the continent of Geth in the Counterweize Region. The evacuation which had little planning, was surprisingly well-organized. In just 29 days, over thirty-six million people were transported to Geth, over one hundred times the native population. Ten million would not survive the winter.

Forced Re-Settlement

The Ralians were dropped on Geth with little more than the worn and tattered clothes on their backs. Absolutely no thought was given to where they would live or what they would eat, and the governments who had ejected them likely intended that most die in the harsh, untamed wilderness. This brutal act of subjugation, however, was enough to solidify the Ralians.

Almost a third died in the first winter, but those who survived immediately set to work. Since most had been educated, after a fashion, they had extensive knowledge of chemistry, geology, and hydrology. Geth was chosen partially because it had little water on the surface, but the Ralians set to work damming rivers and streams. Though they had little agricultural knowledge, they adapted quickly, and by the following fall had learned to live off the land enough that not a single Ral perished in the second winter.

By N.D. 11, they had spread out and begun to build towns. The small population of technologically-regressed locals were absorbed into the Ralians' new society, and many of their religious practices became part of Ral culture. They named the new land Ral'Parthia.

Birth of a Nation

Ral'Parthia proved to be rich in vast reserves of tungsten, aluminum, iron, nickel, and rare-earth metals, as well as a major oil field. There was initially some concern it would be claimed by the Trans-Draconic Federation, due to proximity to dragon-controlled Iami, but the lack of any gold discovered made it uninteresting.

The resources were, however, sought-after by the Earth-Sphere Confederation, who were now regretting "wasting" the place on the Ral. By this time, Shenzen had built up a considerable naval power, and thought it would be a simple matter to conquer "primitive and remote Ral'Parthia". They had, by this time, advanced weapons, industrial capacity, and the ability to move an army a million strong across the sea. Though both the TDF and Foundation objected, Shenzen launched its invasion in N.D. 33.

What followed was one of the most one-sided battles in history.

Battle for Ral'Parthia

The ConFeds had, after expelling the Ralians, learned to use much of the advanced technology left behind by Samuel Fate. They'd quickly taught themselves to build new ships, guns, aircraft, & everything they needed. Their belief was that, without these factories and their advanced machines, the Ralians stood no chance of matching them technologically.

In their haste, they had forgotten an important fact of history: Ral had been brought to Aren because they knew how to BUILD those advanced machines. The Ral's leaders had, from the bitter months of that first winter, made up their minds that since this land had been given to them, they would hold it against all comers. When the Shenzen invasion fleet sailed, the answer was simple: let them come.

When Shenzen's war party arrived, they faced a gauntlet of mines, torpedoes, and fast-attack boats. The ConFeds had made quite a big deal about their battleships, then armed with massive sixteen-inch guns, but still optically-guided. Ralian's radar-guided five-inch naval guns were far more accurate, and made up the deficiency in firepower by landing more shots. Moreover, the Ralians had secretly built a powerful navy of their own.

The defense of the Newland (as Ralians called it) was not meant to stem the invasion, only to blunt it. Attacks focused not on warships but on troop transports, sinking them by the dozens. Of the million soldiers who left Shenzen, only 700,000 arrived to storm the beaches. They found themselves facing a well-prepared, in-depth defense, and an enemy perfectly content to die rather than give up one single inch. Worse still, while the Ralians were willing to die for their young country, they proved much more interested in killing for it. They made particularly heavy use of poison gas and nerve agents. As these were expressly forbidden by the Battle Charter, the ConFed forces arrived unprepared for them.

In fact, the Ralians had, it seemed, taken the "banned and forbidden weapons" section of the Charter as their guidebook. In addition to the regularly-expected methods, their defenses included spike pits and minimal metal landmines; and their soldiers fought with a combination of hollow-point or poison-laced bullets. The ConFed forces were allowed to land largely unopposed, but as they pressed further inland faced increasingly more hellish weapons. The Night of A Thousand Lights marked the first use of phosphorus-coated bullets, which continued to burn after hitting.

Once ConFed forces penetrated the interior of the island, they faced new threats. While Ral'Parthia lacked aircraft in any significant numbers, they proved to have a large number of highly mobile armored units. The ConFeds, not expecting to face tanks, had brought few anti-armor weapons with them. As the fighting grew even more intense, the ConFeds fell into the main trap.

When winter approached, the ConFeds appeared to be gaining ground, and even had some units of Ralian soldiers surrender to them. This bolstered their confidence, most especially when they discovered how many female soldiers the Ral had "been forced" to employ. As neither Ral'Parthia nor the Confederation were signatories to the battle charter, the details of what happened to these prisoners should not be further speculated upon. However, the surrenders proved to be part of a carefully orchestrated plot.

The remote and isolated islands that made up Ral'Parthia were home to a rather large number of rare and exotic diseases. Diseases which the Ral had conquered very quickly. Diseases which the Ral had now opted to weaponize against their invaders. As winter set in, the POWs, chosen because they were asymptomatic carriers, became vectors.

Months of brutal winter fighting followed, with sick and dying ConFed soldiers surrendering in droves. They were all promptly executed, and when word of the mass executions spread, the remaining ConFed forces had little choice but to withdraw. They were harried and attacked the entire way back to the beaches, with many escaping troop ships sunk by submarines. as they edged away from the coast. In all, ConFed losses reached a staggering 800,000. Though no word exists of how many Ralians died, the number is believed to be considerably lower.

Aftermath

Ral'Parthia had won its freedom, but for their uses of banned weapons, were subject to immediate and total embargo by the Gudersnipe Foundation, who in turn forced the Trans-Draconic Federation to follow suit. When the Unity Earth Sphere Alliance was formed later, Ral'Parthia was denied admittance. For their part, the Ral'Parthians were unrepentant, stating that the ten million who had died that first winter gave them the right to hold the land against all comers, and that any further trespass on their soil would be met with similar resistance.

Later History

By N.D. 85, Ral'Parthia had become a nuclear power. Though not recognized as such, they did sign the Battle Charter and swore they had disposed of their chemical and biological weaponry. It was further noted that while the Ralians were ready to defend their sovereignty with white-hot fury, they had no designs on any of their neighbors.

Ral'Parthia, however, was still considered a rogue state. Being isolated and far from any of the major trade routes allowed them to live in peace, and as the Trans-Draconic Federation began to exert control over Serpentia and Shenzen, tensions in the region lessened.

Goban Straights Conflict

In N.D. 381, gold was discovered in Goban; a large, previously uninhabited landmass near Iami. Goban had been a sovereign state during the old Alliance-era, but had at the time possessed no known natural resources of any note. A remote backwater, despite the large size the nation still had to import most of its food. Located halfway between Ral'Parthia and Iami, a confluence of ocean currents left Goban a cold, unforgiving place. As the Long Night fell, Goban had been abandoned.

The rich mineral discovery changed all that. From a legal perspective, no known claim existed on the land. It was near Boothari and Iami, but the only visitors for the past four centuries were dragons, and indeed it was they who had discovered the gold deposit. Being dragons, they could little accept that anyone else would have the gold, and the island was claimed in the name of the Sandria Desert Flight, the first time a dragon flight had claimed new territory in recorded history.

This in turn led to an argument with Boothari. Technically an independant nation, they were among the few powers in the region to have a navy all their own (though they also relied heavily on the Trans-Draconic Federation Navy by way of membership in the New Day Alliance). Boothari landed troops on the island, though given strict orders not to engage, they felt that a military presence might provide them with a legal claim. In a rare move, the Federation in turn landed dragons on the island.

Both parties, however, soon discovered a small Ral'Parthian outpost which, while built for a mostly military presence, had erected several greenhouses. According to the Ral'Parthians, under Alliance law, once a nation had grown crops somewhere, it had officially been colonized, and thus Goban belonged to them. In point of fact, this had been a law under the old Alliance and was commonly accepted during the era. The dragons, however, had explicitly omitted this law when they took part in building the new Alliance, at the time because they felt humans might use it to encroach on their ancestral land claims. Now, it was a handy excuse to deny Ral'Parthia's hand.

The TDFN brought in a carrier battle group, and the Federation made arrangements to import human colonists from Iami. In order to appease Boothari, the Federation agreed to contract Bootharian mining firms to carry out the mineral extraction, allowing Boothari to profit at least somewhat from the discovery. Ral'Parthia, however, refused to give up so easily, and began to bring in forces of their own.

By this time, Ral'Parthia had a powerful domestically-produced navy, including aircraft carriers, and a locally-built and improved-upon copy of the Doer-Daisy multi-role strike-fighter. In addition, they had a fleet of nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines that was suspected to be much larger than anyone knew. Lastly, Ral'Parthia was suspected of possessing ballistic missiles capable of delivering atomic warheads at least as far as Goban.

There was never an open battle, but several small skirmishes were fought, with each side taking warning shots but making no direct hits. Ral'Parthia demonstrated that their locally-built weapons were superior to those the Federation had purchased, and if it did come to open combat, there would be heavy losses. The Federation then attempted the dragon's standard form of 'big-stick' diplomacy, and made it known that they had placed a ballistic missile submarine within range of Ral'Parthia's capitol city. They also made references to Korsic-Phong, a gentle reminder that they were willing and able to resort to such measures.

This caused a massive uproar in Ral'Parthia, who had been petitioning for some time to join the Alliance and was making progress. They decried the Federation, called them bullies, and threatened to sink the submarine. The Ral'Parthian president made a big show of publicly issuing the batteries-release order, giving his missile commanders permission to launch at their discretion.

The Crimson Blade already had a fast carrier group in Kiatra, and had had them on station in the Drunlake Sea. Once the threat of atomic war had been made, the task force set sail immediately for Goban.

Crisis

The interdiction of the Crimson Blade turned the conflict into a crisis. It was well known that while the Gudersnipe Foundation supplied arms to the Federation Navy, the weapons they kept for themselves were far superior. Further, as the dragons were strongly allied with the Foundation, it was obvious they would not risk a conflict. The Foundation stated the task force was dispatched to take and occupy the island and expel all others, and that it would be interred until a peaceful agreement was reached. While they did support the Alliance and Federation, the Foundation was strongly opposed to the use of in-atmosphere atomic weapons, and had demonstrated many times they were willing to use force to prevent it.

This put Ral'Parthia in an uncomfortable position. While they were willing to go to war with the dragons because they knew the threat of a nuclear attack on Iami would give them a strong position to negotiate a favorable settlement, they had no such luxury with the Foundation. Modia was well out of range, and the Crimson Blade Elites were easily on par with their own forces. Moreover, the Foundation had the capacity to bring in much larger forces as needed.

With the Crimson Blade task force just three days out, the Ral'Parthians attempted to provoke a conflict. They ordered their captains to maneuver aggressively, and to go to complete radio silence. The belief was that if they could insight the TDFN to fire the first shots, they could retain their claim on the land. The TDFN, however, was just as aggressive, but equally unwilling to be the ones who fired first.

Somewhere in the confusion, T.D.S. Serpentine was sunk. The cause was believed to be a torpedo hit, though 23 crewmen were rescued before the fast-attack submarine sank in three miles of water. Since the first shot had been fired, the Federation retaliated by sinking one of Ral'Parthia's battle cruisers. The stage was set for an all-out offensive, but brought to a halt when Crimson Blade fighters arrived overhead. Unencrpyted radio transmissions warned that the fighters were only painting targets, and cruise-missile submarines already in the area were prepared to put an end to any further aggressive action. To demonstrate the validity of the threat, targets were painted on all four Federation carriers.

While the Foundation would later state that they had no intention whatsoever of firing on their allies, the bluff had been neccessary to show Ral'Parthia of their serious intentions. The Foundation went on to garrison the island group and put a 99-year moratorium on any mining operations. The dragons themselves were fine with this, as 99 years was very short in dragon-terms, though the lose of potential mining revenue caused a great deal of resentment in Bootharia. Ral'Parthia was forced to withdraw entirely, though they were offered a deal: they would be allowed to build an agricultural colony on the island in exchange for granting the Foundation rights to build a garrison on Ral'Parthia.

It was an interesting act of charity. On the international stage, it offered Ral'Parthia a chance to save face by rejecting the terms. The ardent defense of their homeland was a deeply-seated cultural ideal by this time, and so of course it was ridiculous to imagine they would let an unfriendly power have a base on their soil. Of course, by the same vein, it tacitly forced them to admit they had never intended to colonize the island, as it was quite obvious it was a terrible place for growing crops.

In the end the conflict was resolved without further bloodshed. The TDFN lost 62 sailors about Serpentine and the Ral'Parthians lost 577. The standoff soured relations between Bootharia and the Federation, and bred strong anti-dragon sentiments. It further planted the ideal that, somehow, in some way, there was tension between the Crimson Blade and the TDFN. This was not true by any measure, but the notion lingered in the public consciousness.

Year 382 of the New Day