Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 13 guests

ATST snippet #5

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
ATST snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:08 am

First Space Lord

Posts: 2425
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Whatever Rainbow Waters might not have spelled out in his dispatches to Zion, Maigwair, at least, seemed to realized his intentions quite clearly . . . which probably explained the captain general’s production and procurement choices.

But whether Maigwair’s decision had been a mistake or not, the unhappy truth was that despite Charis’ vastly superior productivity per man-hour, the Church’s artillery would substantially outnumber that of the Allied field armies in the spring. Their guns wouldn’t be as good, they wouldn’t be as mobile, a far higher percentage of them would be converted smoothbores, and the cast iron Fultyn Rifles, especially, would be much more prone to bursting when fired than the Allies’ steel and wire wound guns, but there’d be hell’s own number of them.

There was some good news on that front, though. In the short term, matters in the Gulf of Dohlar were about to take a distinctly downward trend for Mother Church. But far more dangerous for the the Group of Four’s long-term hopes, the Church of God Awaiting was straining every sinew to the breaking point to achieve its current production miracle.

The Temple had already lost all of the Kingdom of Dohlar’s not inconsiderable production capacity, given Dohlar’s desperate need to reequip the troops facing the Army of Thesmar. The need to confront the Charisian naval offensive everyone in Gorath knew had to be coming was a major factor, as well. But the diversion of Dohlaran attention — and weapons production — was scarcely the only consequence of that impending naval offensive.

Even after the Battle of the Kaudzhu Narrows, Earl Sharpfield’s cruisers had managed to effectively shut down all Church shipping across the western third of the Gulf, and less than half the Church’s foundries and manufactories were located north of the Gulf, in the Temple Lands and North Harchong. All the rest of them were in South Harchong, and every gun, every rocket, every rifle or grenade produced in those foundries had to make it to the front.

And that meant they had to travel by water.

For the moment,galleons from Shwei Bay could still make the crossing to the Malansath Bight’s Fairstock Bay or Tahlryn Bay, where cargoes could be barged upriver to the Hayzor-Westborne Canal. The light cruisers operating out of Talisman Island took a toll of that shipping, but until Baron Sarmouth was further reinforced, he could use only his light units for that purpose. The galleons had to stay closer to home, protecting against a possible sudden pounce by the Dohlarans’ heavily reinforced Western Squadron from its base on Saram Bay.

Unfortunately, the RDN had learned a lot about convoy protection from the Charisian Navy, and Caitahno Raisahndo, the Western Squadron’s new CO had put those lessons to good effect east of Jack’s Land Island. At the moment, he was operating what amounted to a shuttle service of escorting galleons over the five hundred miles between the Shweimouth and the northern end of Whale Passage, which meant as much seventyor eighty percent of the cargo which had used that route before Sharpfield retook Claw Island was making it through. And if those galleons sailed another nine hundred miles or so, to Mahrglys on the Gulf of Tanshar, their cargoes could be barged up the Tanshar River to the Bédard Canal and from there straight to the southern Border States, which was by far the fastest way to deliver it to the Church’s field armies.

For now, those three routes were carrying an enormous flow of munitions, but given what Green Valley knew would be happening shortly, that shipping would soon require another route. It damned well wasn’t going to be sailing through the middle of the Gulf of Dohlar anymore, at any rate!

The inland canals from south Shwei Bay to Hankey Sound would compensate for some of that lost capacity, at least as long as the Dohlaran Navy could keep the eastern end of the Gulf open. But not even Safeholdian canals really compared to the cargo capacity of blue water transport, and if Hankey Sound should somehow happen to be cut off from the northern portions of East and West Haven in the same fashion as Shwei Bay . . .

A lot of those new guns and rockets will never make it to Rainbow Waters or the Army of God, Green Valley reflected. Unfortunately, given the sheer numbers we’re talking about — and the fact that Sharpfield and Dunkyn aren’t going to be able to shut the Gulf down tomorrow morning — a lot of them are going to make it. It’ll be a hell of a lot better than it might’ve been, though!

That would help — help a lot — in the upcoming campaign, and the truth was that the Allies didn’t actually need to repeat their battlefield successes on the same scale as the previous two years. Victories were needed, yes, but the Church simply couldn’t sustain its current level of production indefinitely. Even Rhobair Duchairn’s coffers would inevitably run dry — wartime price inflation was taking a painful toll on the Temple Lands and South Harchong and hoarding was pulling ever more gold and silver out of circulation, despite the draconian wage and price controls Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s Inquisition had imposed — and the permanent isolation of South Harchong from the north would cut off any future weapons production from that source for the Mighty Host.

All of which meantthere was no waythe Temple would be able to replace losses on anything remotely like last year’s scale a second time. The bad news was that it was up to the Imperial Charisian Army and the Republic of Siddarmark Army to inflict those losses, and Rainbow Waters wasn’t cooperating.

That’s why they call the other side “the enemy,” Kynt, Green Valley thought sardonically. Why, oh why can’t all of their field commanders be as stupid as Kaitswyrth or Duke Harless? Or even only as smart as Nybar or Wyrshym? But no!

Rainbow Waters was as determined to avoid experiencing blood and destruction as the Allies were to visit them upon him. He had entirely too cool and calculating a brain with which to do that avoiding, too, and Carl Mannerheim would have strongly approved of his latest brainstorm. What Green Valley had just finished viewing was only the latest in several full-scale field experiments the Harchongian had authorized. He knew he couldn’t match the full capability of the Allies’ new-model artillery, but he was beginning to receive enough heavy guns of his own to let him at least approximate a Charisian-style bombardment, and he’d held many of them near his headquarters in Lake City to keep them concentrated while he experimented not simply with the best way to use them but the best way to defend agains t them.

Captain of Horse Rungwyn had built a fortified “line” a mile wide and three miles deep, and then Lord of Foot Zhyngbau had done his dead level best to blow it up again. Constructing something like that in the early stages of a northern winter had been no picnic, even for Harchongese serfs accustomed to a still harsher climate, but Rungwyn had persevered.

In a lot of ways, Rungwyn reminded Green Valley of Admiral Sir Ahlfryd Hyndryk, the Baron of Seamount, except that Rungwyn had possessed no military experience before the Harchong Empire raised the Mighty Host of God and the Archangels. He was a civilian engineer, and a very good one. That was onereason Rainbow Waters had selected him for his current position. Another was the fact that he was almost as smart as, if thankfully less innovative than, Seamount, andhis commoner background left him blissfully unhampered by aristocratic prejudices. But the fact that he had absolutely no training as a military engineer was perhaps his most important qualification, since it meant he’d had so much less to unlearn.

The IHA’s engineers, like every other Harchongian, were the best, most effective practitioners of their art (whatever that art might happen to be) in the entire world. They knew that, whether anyone else did or not. The fact that they had exactly zero experience with the new-model tactics and weapons Charis had introduced was a mere bagatelle. Certainly those newfangled toys were no reason to panic or allow themselves to be stampeded into abandoning the tried-and-true techniques they knew worked!

It was possible that existing senior officers could have been taught better, but it was unlikely it could have been accomplished in time to save the Mighty Host from disaster. So Rainbow Waters, with a directness Alexander the Great could only have envied, had cut his own Gordian Knot with a blade named Rungwyn. It hadn’t made the captain of horse any friends. In fact, he was as well aware as Rainbow Waters of the innumerable enemies he’d made. Unfortunately for the Allies, he was just as focused on winning the jihad as the Mighty Host’s CO, and he’d already moved his family to Shwei Province in the South Harchong Empire. He liked the climate better there . . . in more ways than one, and many of the merchant and banking families of southern Harchong were already floating tentative post-jihad employment offers in his direction.

In the meantime, however, he’d approached the question of new-model fortifications with a completely open mind, and the results promised to be extremely painful. Good as current Charisian artillery was, it had yet to approach the effectiveness of the TNT-filled shells of Earth’s twentieth century wars. Sahndrah Lywys’ version of TNT might change that, but that not in the next few months. Pilot lots had already been completed at the Delthak Works new satellite facility, and the new explosive — designated “Composition D” after the site of its development — had been tested very enthusiastically by Sir Ahlfryd Hyndryk at his Helen Island proving grounds, but the new explosive wouldn’t achieve true volume production until late spring or early summer. That meant all of the artillery shells available when the upcoming campaigns began would still be charged with black powder, and black powder — even the current Charisian “prismatic” powder — was an anemic explosive compared to something like dynamite or TNT. And, unfortunately, some of Rungwyn’s efforts would have been a serious challenge even for the massive artillery bombardments of 1916 and 1917.

He’d demonstrated that in experiments like the one Green Valley had just watched. Worse, he, Wind Song, and Rainbow Waters between them were in the process of formulating an entirely new doctrine to use those fortifications. It was one the Imperial German Army of 1916 would have recognized: a deep zone of successive belts of trenches and fortified strong points designed to absorb and channel an attack, diverting it into preplanned defensive fire zones. And just as Rainbow Waters had been prepared to modify the Mighty Host’s hand grenade design to produce a weapon his slingers could launch to extraordinary range, he’d signed off on the local production of the equivalent of Charis’ landmines. He didn’t have barbed wire — yet, at least — and the Mighty Host’s mines were less powerful and less reliable than the current-generation Charisian product, but within those limits, he was well on the way to producing something Erich von Falkenhayen would have recognized only too well. Neither Rainbow Waters nor Rungwyn had quite gotten to the point of deliberately allowing the attacker to advance until he’d outrun the effective support of his own artillery before throwing in a crushing counterattack. Given the way their current discussions were trending, the competent bastards were almost certainly going to arrive there eventually, though . . . and quite probably before the Allies were prepared to resume the offensive.

Perhaps just as bad, Rungwyn had been devising ways to attack his own fortifications. Some of his notions about combat engineers and demolition charges were unhappily similar to those the Imperial Charisian Army had worked out. Whatever Rainbow Waters might be telling his superiors in Zion, he clearly expected the Mighty Host and the AOG to be defending their positions this summer, rather than attacking. He wasn’t about to pass up any offensive opportunities that came his way, however, and Rungwyn’s mindset — and the mindset he was instilling into the engineers he was cycling through his training programs as rapidly as possible — was likely to provide Allies commanders with some very unpleasant experiences if that happened.

And Zhyngbau’s no prize, either, Green Valley thought grumpily. The man’s spent entirely too much time corresponding with Maigwair and Brother Lynkyn, then actually thinking about the best way to use his new guns. And he’s done too damned good a job of analyzing what we’ve done with them. His tools won’t be as good, and he won’t have the advantage of Ahlfryd and Ehdwyrd’s new toy, so we’re still going to have a huge advantage in reach, range, and flexibility. But he’s damned well going to evolve the best technique he can for what he does have, and he’s got a hell of a lot more than they ever had before.

If the new Balloon Corps worked as well as promised — or even only half that well — the Allies’ qualitative artillery advantage might well overbalance the Church’s numerical advantage. No balloon had ever been used in combat yet, though, and it was possible their carefully worked out doctrine wouldn’t work as well in practice as in theory. Even if it did, even the heaviest currently available guns would be hard pressed to deal with the sorts of fortifications Rungwyn was designing. Charis simply didn’t have the high-explosive shell fillers needed to blast a way through deeply bunkered positions. Yet, at least. That might change if Sahndarah Lywys was able to expedite her progress, but the Allies couldn’t count on that. They had to fight a campaign this year, and even if Lywys achieved miracles, they’d still have to begin that campaign before the new shells could possibly become available, and that was likely to prove expensive.

The ideal solution would be to go somewhere his men wouldn’t have to face Rungwyn’s fortifications or Zhyngbau’s dug-in and prepared artillery, and under normal circumstances, the ICA’s emphasis on mobility would have let him, Duke Eastshare, and the other Allied army commanders do just that. But the Church’s retreating armies had demolished the canal and road net behind them too efficiently, and weather was already shutting down Charisian and Siddarmarkian repair efforts.

And, unfortunately, even the Imperial Charisian Army needs a supply line. The fact that we’ve managed to hang on to Spinefish Bay and Salyk this winter will help, and when the ice melts on the Hildermoss — not to mention in Hsing-wu’s Passage — our logistics will get a lot better. But even then, we’re going to have to advance along depressingly predictable lines, and Rainbow Waters is obviously prepared to evade even Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s demands if he has to. We can’t count on sucking him into indefensible positions like Wyrshym’s or Kaitswyrth’s. And if it looks like we’re about to do that, he’ll damned well retreat, whatever Clyntahn wants, unless we can figure out a way to fix him in position.

Green Valley had become an intense student of Earth’s military history since he’d been recruited for the inner circle, and the situation, he thought, had some resonances with the last year or so of World War Two. In Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s eyes, Harchong held much the same position the Waffen SS had held in Adolf Hitler’s. He trusted Harchongese devotion to the jihad — or, at least, to preventing the success of the Church of Charis — in a way he trusted none of the other secular armies who’d answered Mother Church’s call. In fact, he trusted the Harchongians more than he did the Church’s own army, given his current relationship with Allayn Maigwair. That meant a Harchongese commander enjoyed far greater latitude when it came to Clyntahn’s demands, and Rainbow Waters had amply demonstrated that however intelligent and willing to think “outside the box” he might be, he was also a consummate practitioner of the Harchongese aristocracy’s ability to game the system.

Not even he would be able to simply ignore Zhaspahr Clyntahn, and if the military situation began to crumble, his ability to manipulate Clyntahn would probably crumble right along with it. But he’d begin the campaign, at least, with a far greater degree of flexibility than any of the Allies’ previous opposing field commanders.

And that’s going to be painful, Green Valley thought glumly. Even with the Balloon Corps, and even assuming it works perfectly, it’s going to be painful. Especially since he’s also going to begin the campaign with forward-deployed supply stockpiles big enough to support his operations all frigging summer long.

Well, the Empire of Charis had confronted apparently insoluble problems before, he reminded himself. They’d just have to do it again.

As soon as he or someone else came up with a clue as to how they did it.

The Delthak Works,
Barony of Lochair,
Kingdom of Old Charis,
Empire of Charis;
Nimue’s Cave,
The Mountains of Light,
The Temple Lands;
Siddar City,
Republic of Siddarmark.

“So you’re happy about Ahlfryd’s latest brainstorm?” Cayleb Ahrmahk asked.

“They seem to be working just fine,” Ehdwyrd Howsmyn, the recently elevated Duke of Delthak, replied over the com as he leaned back in his chair and gazed out his office windows at the bustling, never ceasing activity of the largest industrial complex in the world.

“In some ways, I’d have preferred Ahldahs Rahzwail’s suggestion,” he continued, his expression a bit more somber as his eyes rested on the still incomplete roof and walls of the newly named Kahrltyn Haigyl Barrel Finishing Shop. “Compressed air for the burner isn’t really that much of a challenge and fire vine oil’s a lot less explosive than hydrogen, not to mention easier to transport than hydrochloric acid. Doesn’t have the same corrosive effect on the gas cell linings, either. But hydrogen’s also got about seven times the lift of hot air, and the varnish Rhaiyan’s people came up with to make the steel thistle gastight also cuts down on the corrosive effect. Can’t completely stop it, but each cell should be good for at least a month or so of use before it needs routine replacement.” He shrugged. “Generating the gas will be easier for the Navy, and hauling around multi-ton lots of hydrochloric acid and zinc will present the Army with some significant safety hazards. On the other hand, they’ll be able to haul a lot more of both than a ship at sea can cram into its available volume.”

"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by Peter2   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:34 am

Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 355
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:54 am

Superb! Thank you very much, RFC. I wonder which rabbit will be pulled out of which hat to crack the conundrum that Rainbow Waters' abilities pose? :ugeek:
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by Annachie   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:36 am

Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3091
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:36 pm


Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk
You are so going to die. :p ~~~~ runsforcelery
still not dead. :)
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by KillerTomato   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:38 am


Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:20 pm

Why do i think that you are going to throw our friends a spanner into the works in the form of a Hindenburg Disaster. :|
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by Joat42   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:59 am

Vice Admiral

Posts: 1830
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:01 am
Location: Sweden

KillerTomato wrote:Why do i think that you are going to throw our friends a spanner into the works in the form of a Hindenburg Disaster. :|

There is that, but BALLOONS! This takes it to whole new level.

Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.

Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by Dilandu   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:43 am


Posts: 2494
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:44 pm
Location: Russia

KillerTomato wrote:Why do i think that you are going to throw our friends a spanner into the works in the form of a Hindenburg Disaster. :|

Oh please! The only reason than "Hindenburg" crash was significant is only because this airship was exalted by German's propaganda. The Germany weren't actually stalled by this accident. The LZ 130 "Graf Zeppelin II" was already in construction, and two more were ordered before the war ended all german airship program.

In early aeronautical age, such accidents were pretty common. So, if one of Charisian's ballon/airship would catch fire and would be destroyed... the Charisians would just shrug and order more. That's the way to get it done (c)

Oh well, if shortening the front is what the Germans crave,
Let's shorten it to very end - the length of Fuhrer's grave.

(Red Army lyrics from 1945)
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by Dilandu   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:47 am


Posts: 2494
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:44 pm
Location: Russia

But hydrogen’s also got about seven times the lift of hot air, and the varnish Rhaiyan’s people came up with to make the steel thistle gastight also cuts down on the corrosive effect.

Can’t completely stop it, but each cell should be good for at least a month or so of use before it needs routine replacement.”

So. They are talking about gas cells. :?


Airships? :o

If it is, than it's AWESOME!!! :D Thanks, RFC!

Oh well, if shortening the front is what the Germans crave,
Let's shorten it to very end - the length of Fuhrer's grave.

(Red Army lyrics from 1945)
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by Keith_w   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:55 am


Posts: 962
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:10 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Thank you for the snippet RFC.

I guess we all have to stop wondering about Lighter Than Air vehicles.
A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by ErikM   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:12 am

Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:44 am
Location: The Netherlands

A nice read.

It will be very interesting to see the Dohlaran and South Harchongese reactions when the charisians' steel battleships arrive and start sinking everything afloat. I agree that they will try to reroute traffic through the canals but also that that will largely be a bust.

It looks like western Siddarmark and the Border States are slated to become an enormous war zone, with conditions resembling the WWI western or eastern fronts depending on how far away large towns, cities and canals are. Nasty indeed.

The balloons sound a lot like US civil war era observation balloons. They'll undoubtedly set off a lot of people's 'This Is Magic/Demonic' triggers but flexible commanders on both sides will quickly see their use as mobile observation posts and even signal towers.

More! Want MORE! Must Have MORE!
Re: ATST snippet #5
Post by Undercover Fat Kid   » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:40 am

Undercover Fat Kid

Posts: 202
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:20 pm

Awesome! Thank you, sir!
Death is as a feather,
Duty is as a mountain
This life is a dream
From which we all
Must wake

Return to Safehold