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The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuultani

Fans of Colin Maclntyre and the great starship Dahak should take a minute to stop in here for discussions about one of David's best-loved series.
The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuultani
Post by cralkhi   » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:32 pm

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Why did the 4thEmp have a million planetoids? Was it a matter of maintaining 4thImp military buildup levels, or did they build even MORE after Herdan?

I mean, Colin beat a double-sized Great Visit with less than a hundred undermanned ones, so a million seems absolute overkill for anything, ever. Now maybe the 4thImp tremendously overestimated the numbers and power of the Achuultani (or were just being very, very cautious)... but why keep such ridiculous levels of power after the Achuultani were no longer considered a threat? Sure, no one would deactivate theirs during the period of civil wars during the 4thImp -> 4thEmp transition ... but afterwards? The 4thEmp seems to have been extremely stable, and you'd think that after a few centuries - or, even if all the leaders had bioenhanced lifespans so the cultural memory was longer, a thousand years or so at most - there'd be no reason to keep all that military power around. Why didn't they disassemble them and use the resources for useful stuff, or at least deactivate them and save on the costs of the enormous crews? You might want a couple dozen or even a couple hundred to deal with rebellions or some sort of sudden alien attack (though the 4thEmp seems to have gotten pretty big without meeting anyone, so I doubt they'd consider the latter a serious possibility...)

Come to think of it, the 4thImp probably did colossally overestimate the Achuultani threat, because they seem to have been constantly wary of them - whereas judging by the events of TAI a Great Visit would have been trivially crushed with those sorts of numbers (though 4thImp ships are said to be far inferior to 4thEmp, so it might take several thousand to do what Colin did with 80ish.)
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by FriarBob   » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:22 pm

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cralkhi wrote:Why did the 4thEmp have a million planetoids? Was it a matter of maintaining 4thImp military buildup levels, or did they build even MORE after Herdan?

I mean, Colin beat a double-sized Great Visit with less than a hundred undermanned ones, so a million seems absolute overkill for anything, ever. Now maybe the 4thImp tremendously overestimated the numbers and power of the Achuultani (or were just being very, very cautious)... but why keep such ridiculous levels of power after the Achuultani were no longer considered a threat? Sure, no one would deactivate theirs during the period of civil wars during the 4thImp -> 4thEmp transition ... but afterwards? The 4thEmp seems to have been extremely stable, and you'd think that after a few centuries - or, even if all the leaders had bioenhanced lifespans so the cultural memory was longer, a thousand years or so at most - there'd be no reason to keep all that military power around. Why didn't they disassemble them and use the resources for useful stuff, or at least deactivate them and save on the costs of the enormous crews? You might want a couple dozen or even a couple hundred to deal with rebellions or some sort of sudden alien attack (though the 4thEmp seems to have gotten pretty big without meeting anyone, so I doubt they'd consider the latter a serious possibility...)

Come to think of it, the 4thImp probably did colossally overestimate the Achuultani threat, because they seem to have been constantly wary of them - whereas judging by the events of TAI a Great Visit would have been trivially crushed with those sorts of numbers (though 4thImp ships are said to be far inferior to 4thEmp, so it might take several thousand to do what Colin did with 80ish.)


Well... you overlook a few details. Such as the fact that the Imperium wasn't quite as desperate as Colin, so they probably wouldn't have used his nova-trick. That would have at least doubled the number of ships they needed. Plus we don't know if they would have thought of trying to meet the Achuultani in deep space yet use their Enchanaach drives to prevent them from escaping. That was no doubt a major difference in the firepower needed as well, because of simple FEAR. Indeed those beam weapons were almost certainly a huge advantage for Colin, greatly exceeding their actual raw numbers of ships destroyed, because of the terror they instilled in the enemy. Without those beams, the Achuultani would not have panicked nearly as much nor as quickly. Then add in the better missiles and all the rest and I wouldn't be surprised if the Imperium truly would have needed every ship it had built, or at least very close to it.

Then add in that the Empire was born out of resolving CENTURIES of SEVERE civil warfare... and even with the Empire built and run by an extremely popular emperor in Herdan the Great (and/or his immediate successors), there were still about "half-a-dozen minor-league 'wars' (by Imperial standards)" in the next 5000 years. Given lifespans of up to 600 years or so, this means that in any given 200-300 year period there was probably about a 50% chance of at least some people alive who still remembered the last round of warfare... or who were plotting to start the next.

Plus who said they ever completely became "atheists" with regards to the Achuultani? For that matter, they might have had a "religious revival" of some sort too. Why else would any sane person contemplate creating a biological warfare mechanism to completely destroy ALL life on a planet? Or a gravitonic warhead that could essentially vaporize an entire planet with a single shot? The only reason to justify such an insane "technological terror" would be if they planned to use it against a major enemy they wanted to make absolutely sure to wipe out permanently.

They might have gone for overkill. Actually, let's scratch that, they DID go for overkill. But they didn't actually know that. They didn't know what the enemy force level would actually be. They didn't know if it would be a million ships or 10 million or a billion. Worse, after having two instances in which they KNEW they'd escaped by sheer luck, they weren't interested in merely hoping to survive yet again by more luck. They wanted to WIN. And if they happened to win by overkill, well there are plenty of worse alternatives... like not winning at all.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by robert132   » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:02 pm

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They might have gone for overkill. Actually, let's scratch that, they DID go for overkill. But they didn't actually know that.


"Over-kill is under-rated." - COL John "Hannibal" Smith

If you are ever faced with an enemy who is bent on the total extermination of you, your family or your world would you settle for "enough?" What if your guess of what is "enough" is wrong because the intelligence is wrong and it turns out you need 2, 3 or 10 times the firepower?

Or the enemy catches your forces out of position? If you have "enough" you might not have the reserves necessary to check him before he gets within range of the target.

I'll take over-kill every time. It's much easier to recover from total victory than total destruction. But then that's my military background speaking.
****

Just my opinion of course and probably not worth the paper it's not written on.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by FriarBob   » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:44 pm

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robert132 wrote:
They might have gone for overkill. Actually, let's scratch that, they DID go for overkill. But they didn't actually know that.


"Over-kill is under-rated." - COL John "Hannibal" Smith

If you are ever faced with an enemy who is bent on the total extermination of you, your family or your world would you settle for "enough?" What if your guess of what is "enough" is wrong because the intelligence is wrong and it turns out you need 2, 3 or 10 times the firepower?

Or the enemy catches your forces out of position? If you have "enough" you might not have the reserves necessary to check him before he gets within range of the target.

I'll take over-kill every time. It's much easier to recover from total victory than total destruction. But then that's my military background speaking.


I don't have any such military background... but I still completely agree. If you are going to fight, make SURE you win.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by Kytheros   » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:26 pm

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Also, it's worth remembering that most 4th Imp/4th Emp ships have pretty lengthy service lifespans.
Planetoids take years to build, are resource-intensive, and each one is, in effect, a generation ship on top of being a warship.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by robert132   » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:36 pm

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FriarBob wrote:
robert132 wrote:
They might have gone for overkill. Actually, let's scratch that, they DID go for overkill. But they didn't actually know that.


"Over-kill is under-rated." - COL John "Hannibal" Smith

If you are ever faced with an enemy who is bent on the total extermination of you, your family or your world would you settle for "enough?" What if your guess of what is "enough" is wrong because the intelligence is wrong and it turns out you need 2, 3 or 10 times the firepower?

Or the enemy catches your forces out of position? If you have "enough" you might not have the reserves necessary to check him before he gets within range of the target.

I'll take over-kill every time. It's much easier to recover from total victory than total destruction. But then that's my military background speaking.


I don't have any such military background... but I still completely agree. If you are going to fight, make SURE you win.


During 21 years in the USN I spent some time working with members of the other services including, needless to say, Marines. One comment that comes to mind goes (paraphrasing) "Only get into a "fair fight" if you can afford to lose it."

"Never give a sucker an even break." - W.C. Fields. Good tactical and strategic advice IMHO.
****

Just my opinion of course and probably not worth the paper it's not written on.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by Brom O'Berin   » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:17 pm

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To paraphrase Patton - "your job is to make the other poor SOB die for his country." Being unwilling or able to bring more than sufficient force is not a long-term survival trait.

robert132 wrote:
FriarBob wrote:"Over-kill is under-rated." - COL John "Hannibal" Smith

If you are ever faced with an enemy who is bent on the total extermination of you, your family or your world would you settle for "enough?" What if your guess of what is "enough" is wrong because the intelligence is wrong and it turns out you need 2, 3 or 10 times the firepower?

Or the enemy catches your forces out of position? If you have "enough" you might not have the reserves necessary to check him before he gets within range of the target.

I'll take over-kill every time. It's much easier to recover from total victory than total destruction. But then that's my military background speaking.


I don't have any such military background... but I still completely agree. If you are going to fight, make SURE you win.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by robert132   » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:55 am

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Brom O'Berin wrote:To paraphrase Patton - "your job is to make the other poor SOB die for his country." Being unwilling or able to bring more than sufficient force is not a long-term survival trait.


Exactly.
****

Just my opinion of course and probably not worth the paper it's not written on.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by ewarrior11   » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:50 pm

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There is no overkill. Only "open fire" and "reload".
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by Emo Otaku   » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:51 am

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From the same source

Only cheaters prosper.
If you’re leaving scorch-marks, you need a bigger gun.
That which does not kill you has made a tactical error.


What we have to remember is that the human race has come close to extintion several time at the hands of the Achuultani and few records exist.

They don't know exactly what the enemy have, what it takes to kill them etc and they are also slightly paranoid

So as was said
ewarrior11 wrote:There is no overkill. Only "open fire" and "reload".
o
~~~~~~

Sanity is merely the consensus of the Insane
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