The Hosan Obelisk Governing Council had their reasons for their studious neutrality. Until the Briddarri raid on the Eission fuel reserves, the Naplians had focused their aggression on members of the Grand Alliance. Given the drubbing that the Audrians and Dresch were getting, it was nothing short of suicidal to poke sticks at the Naplian Gullbeast looming over the western border. The Council made it crystal clear to Naval Command that combat sorties and even refugee relief efforts in Dresch territory were strictly forbidden.
As the situation worsened, Dresch and Audrian refugee convoys began to stack up in the Dresch border starsystems. Pleas for passage through Hosanii space poured in from Grand Alliance diplomats, but the Hosan Obelisk government was unmoved. Even veiled threats from the Briddarri Embassy could not persuade the Governing Council. The Hosanii understood what the Grand Alliance diplomats apparently didn't; the Briddarri would never use force against the Hosanii to rescue a few refugees. The Grand Alliance needed the Hosan Obelisk's neutrality to move goods and maintain lines of communication between them and their new Terran allies. Briddarri military vessels would have to skirt around Obelisk space but transports carrying civilian goods, and "non-lethal" materials could transit Hosanii space. Angering the Hosanii would only hurt the Grand Alliance.
The Hosanii civilian authorities knew something else that seemed to be lost on their military counterparts. They did not have the resources to sustain a major campaign let alone a protracted war with the Naplians. The Hosanii ground forces were formidable to be sure, and the ground war on Hosan Obelisk worlds would be extended and brutal. However, the Hosan stellar navy could not hope to keep the lines of supply and communication between starsystems open. The navy was large but antiquated, and the Hosan empire was nearly the size of the Terran Republic. Defeat at the three-digit hands of the Naplians was a foregone conclusion.
On the western frontier, the cries from the alien refugees reached fever pitch as Naplian and Maripal forces approached the border starsystems. When a Naplian Grissan Nast battlecruiser waded into a flotilla of civilian vessels, blasting them with particle batteries, the Hosan Navy acted. In spite of orders to the contrary, two squadrons of Hosanii warships sortied from a nearby starbase and engaged the Naplian warship but not before it had killed several unarmed ships in the hours it took for the rescuers to arrive. The surviving transports were ushered across the frontier, and the screening squadrons then withdrew, losing two destroyers in the process. Nearly twenty-six thousand Dresch and Human souls were saved at the cost of four hundred fifteen Hosanii lives. Within hours, the Western Frontier Command ordered all frontier squadrons to begin screening approaching refugee fleets, but Grand Alliance warships were to be refused entry. The Grand Council scrambled to salvage the situation but events were moving too quickly. Despairing of regaining control, they summoned the Briddarri ambassador to begin negotiations for membership in the Grand Alliance.
At The Frontier
The Naplians did not hesitate. Forward elements surged across the border without orders, pursuing refugee convoys and engaging Hosanii squadrons at will. In response, the Hosan frontier naval commander ordered his fleets to allow Grand Alliance combatants to cross the border on condition that they would submit to Hosanii command and control, which the majority did without hesitation. The main Naplian fleets stopped at the frontier for several weeks as they awaited instructions and drew up operational plans to pursue the Grand Alliance into Hosanii territory.
Next...The Invasion of the Obelisk
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