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The Failure of Klendathu and the Early War (wip)

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KLENDATHU SYSTEM

 

The beginning of the Arachnid War was capped off by encroachments within the borderzones of a species observed but otherwise ignored by the Federation as too primitive to be of any threat. The Council at the time had believed that the Arachnids were parasitic but not dangerous enough to warrant response aside from horde culling.

 

After several notable raids on human frontier colonies within the "territory" of the Arachnids, action culminated in the very first responsive measures declared by the Council, otherwise referred to as "police actions". In theory, these were mass culling operations. In practice, it was generally warfare all but in name. The first engagements were only limited to defensive measures and clearing of frontier colonies which had been infested. These actions eventually disturbed the collective hive mind of the pseudo-arachnid enough to warrant massive escalation.

 

The destruction of Buenos Aires was completely unexpected due to intelligence failures and a complete lack of interest by scientific circles towards the sub-castes of the Arachnid species. No dedicated efforts were previously made to thoroughly research the Arachnid aside from workers, warriors, and chariot bugs. After the destruction of Buenos Aires, the Council formally voted to declare war. Sky Marshal Dienes immediately ordered two million men total, mostly support and logistical personnel, to the Klendathu system. Within 6 months, the attack was prepared. Several armies across Federal space were clumped together to form Army Group Klendathu, a loose amalgamation with several overlapping jurisdictions and a logistical nightmare. Among the divisions within their respective armies and corps was the famed 1st MID, formed entirely of career soldiers. The 3rd Fleet would transport the majority of Army Group Klendathu with several elements of the 4th and 5th Fleet.

 

In total, ~4 million personnel were to land on Klendathu on several pivotal "security points" in order to establish a beachhead for further horde culling. The initial plan was to wage aggressive conventional warfare initially and then settle in defensive positions. The first six hours were planned extensively and meticulously - each unit was assigned a specific objective, specific point to reach within a time frame, and specific amount of ordnance at minimum to use in order to attract response. In most cases, these objectives were never even reached. A further 2 million were to land after a week.

 

The ignorance of Dienes' intelligence ministers at the time prevented an adequate amount of research to be performed - particularly in regards to plasma castes, which with further research would be discovered to be able to calculate orbital trajectories for their plasma bombardments and through telepathy direct their plasma bombardments more effectively than conventional gunners. 

 

After meeting at a brown dwarf on the outskirts of the binary star system, the combined assets assembled in far orbit of Klendathu. Upon the orders of Sky Marshal Dienes through tachyon communications, attacks were commenced. Upon approach, massive direct plasma bombardments destroyed lightly-armored corvettes and heavily damaged several support vessels. Two Mobile Infantry Divisions were completely destroyed before even disembarking. 

 

Within 30 minutes, around 700,000 troops were dumped off of their dropships from corvettes. Already, around 70,000 troopers had been declared dead. Several Mobile Infantry Divisions were wiped out entirely within minutes by plasma castes and massive numbers of arachnids. Within the first ten minutes, approximately 25,000 ground troops had been slaughtered, 100,000 troops died in the first hour alone. The Battle of Klendathu in total lasted for five hours, but many divisions retreated on the same dropships they came in on, ignoring orders to stay and fight. In total, eight total divisions were annihilated and failed to report back to Battle Station Ticonderoga, including the 1st Mobile Infantry Division. Several dropships left the atmosphere of the planet only to discover the ships that had been waiting to receive them were gone or destroyed. In the frantic attack and retreat phase, many dropship pilots simply ran out of fuel attempting to find vessels to land at. They were stranded in space. The last division to pull out of Klendathu consisted of nine men on a single dropship, the senior-most person aboard being a member of the division's first regiment, a Private part of the first echelon, and therefore in command due to laws of succession.

 

A popular anecdote commonly used by opposition can be quoted by Captain John Murphy of the 99th Mobile Infantry Division during his publicized courts-martial,

"When we touched down on the desert floor in our LZ, we had arranged in a semi-circle pattern with the dropships so we could disembark as a crowd easier - strength in numbers, as we were taught. Instead of disembarking, the vessels across the way fell victim to arachnids tearing through the armor of their boats like a steak knife to butter. We could hear the crunching metal from inside our ship. They sliced their way through the crowds of men who ran out from the open off-ramps and the holes they had just freshly tore in the sides of the boats. The tearing was what most of us remember - the noise of them clawing through the crowds. Then it would rain, you know? You'd find some red muck in your hair after the battle and try to think it was jam or something. That sticks with most of us. Our pilot just took off - I couldn't stomach shooting him, everyone that day was retreating."

 

Several tactical retreats were ordered within the first five minutes out of necessity. However, from what little ground forces remain, approximately 250,000 troops, they fought for five hours. Typically longevity correlated with combined arms and height advantage. By the fifth hour, only around 25,000 soldiers remained on the surface of Klendathu with untold amounts of wounded and missing. 

 

After the final general retreat signal was sounded, vessels regrouped at Fleet Battlestation Ticonderoga. A period of two weeks was used to regroup and discover the aftermath. Of 900,000 total soldiers who managed to disembark at Klendathu, 514,354 casualties were reported. Less than .005% of which were wounded and recovered. Fleet personnel in orbit suffered 300,000 collective casualties but was not reported on or recorded as heavily due to the failure to keep statistics and interest in public safety. 

 

The failure of Klendathu resulted in Sky Marshal Dienes resigning three days after. Military Inteligence in the months to follow would establish the Brain Bug Hypothesis, a turning point in the conflict. Many minor engagements which resulted in defeats were recorded but not often reported. Within 3 months of the defeat at Klendathu, Zegema Beach was destroyed.

 

The failure of Klendathu can thus be attributed to the following factors;

- Consideration of the Arachnid species as "pests" rather than a valid threat

- Failure to diagnose the extent of Arachnid territory

- Lack of planning

- Lack of combined arms

- Reliance on numbers

- Incompetence

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