1st Audrian War - The Rutak First and Second Offensives 2465-2500
2464 was the high tide for the Imperial Alliance in the First Audrian War. The Dresch Kingdom was overrun and occupied. Naplian and Svenisch fleets were pushing north into the Dulte Kingdom toward the Briddarri frontier. Imperial forces had repelled an Audrian invasion and gone over to the offensive, driving deep into Audria on a broad front. In the south, Ffawe Naplian and Denic forces had beaten back the Rutak invasion of Denica. But as rosy as the situation may have appeared, there were dark clouds on the horizon.
The Imperial Alliance had expected the Audro-Dresch coalition to sue for peace once the Dersch home starsystem fell. It didn't happen, in part because the Dresch had been so thoroughly trounced and their political institutions were in such disarray that it was impossible for the government to act. This was not lost on the Briddarri, who were playing for time to get their fleets positioned in Dulte to oppose the inevitable Naplian assault. In the South, the news was mixed. Imperial Alliance forces had seized Pressak and invaded both Proq and Qomiti.
Grand Alliance resistance stiffened in Dulte with the arrival of fresh Briddarri reinforcements. The advancing Naplians were not prepared for the reception they received in the Unden starfields in 2470. The most bitter fighting centered on the Jungle world of Iser-3, along the south face of the dark Unden Nebula. In 2473, Briddarri marines and Beigian orbital jump divisions made a series of hot landings in the southern hemisphere, taking a principal spaceport and sparking a three year running battle along the upper face of the nebula. Grand Alliance losses were severe but nowhere near the loss suffered by the Imperial fleets. The Naplians squandered thousands of starships and millions of troops in the fighting. In the end, the Naplians could only consolidate their forces to hold the line at the limit of their advance. The stalemate lasted for years until, 2532 when setbacks in the south forced the Naplians to withdraw entirely from Dulte to shorten their lines in order to send nearly a third of the Northern Command's ships and troops south to meet the Rutak onslaught.
During the first century of the war, the Rutak had played a remarkably small part. Skirmishes along the frontier and halfhearted offensives in Denica and at the edge of Ffawe territory were all that the Rutak offered. The Naplian high command had long been dismissive of Rutak military capacity. However, they failed to take into account the vast industrial potential and the frightening number of soldiers the largest empire in the galaxy could bring to bear. During the second half of the 24th century and most of the 25th century, the Rutak used their more experienced but poorly equipped standing armies and aging starships to keep the Imperial forces engaged while they retooled and bided their time. In the depths of their massive territory, the Rutak built new armies and fleets, equipped with the best technology, devised and modified from lessons learned by their brothers and sisters fighting at the front.
The hammer blow fell in 2491, when powerful Rutak task forces, which had been gathering behind the front fell upon the Denic defenders and swept them aside. The Rutak had occupied nearly half of Denica when they were repulsed by Naplian forces at the battle of Keplic in 2500. Badly mauled and bitterly disappointed, the Rutak withdrew from Denic territory to rearm, refit as the next Rutak wave of troops and machines entered the front lines.
Next time...The Endgame
Artwork by Dmitry Borodin
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