- Published: 26 March 2020
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During the great retreat following the Massacre of Artemis III, this colony shared the fate of many other worlds, and was overtaken by Shohan. Unlike many other colonies, Diyu never fell to the Shohan and remains under siege to this day. With the Terran Sphere pressing into the sector again, the Shohan are weighing their options for finally ending the siege. It is their hope to prevent the technology behind this successful defense from reaching the Terran Sphere proper by any means necessary.
The Por Nossas Mãos System
By Our Hands or Por Nossas Mãos is one of the inhabited star systems of the Alastair sector. The star itself is an F-V main sequence star about 3.75 billion years old. It is circled by six planets: 3 rocky worlds with only wisps of atmosphere in the inner system, 2 gas giants, and an ice giant on the other edge of the system. The fourth planet, a gas giant called Yùshān for its brilliant green coloration, sits squarely in the middle of star’s goldilocks zone, around which orbits Diyu: the fifth, largest, and last moon of Yùshān. Unlike most moons, Diyu is not tidally locked with its planet, instead maintaining a 5:2 orbital resonance with Yùshān; not unlike Mercury and its orbit around Sol. Uniquely, Diyu also has its own moonlet, christened Saci by Diyu’s settlers after a trickster figure of Brazilian folklore. It’s believed that this lumpy, barely spherical little moon was captured early in the system’s formation, and the transfer of its momentum to Diyu prevented it from becoming tidally locked to its plnet. In the process several of Yùshān’s smaller moons were ejected, some of which have since settled into trojan orbits trailing Yùshān at its L5 point.
The moon maintains a breathable atmosphere and life-giving hydrosphere, but its comparatively low gravity and the gravitational stresses it experiences from its primary have shaped the world into a complex global canyon network with an entrenched river-sea at its bottom. The canyons are broken only by the occasional patch of open sea, mesa top, or more frequently, volcano. This labyrinth helped give the moon its name after the maze-like Chinese hell, although the moon is a considerably nicer place to live than most traditional depictions of this afterlife. Purple toned wall-hugging vegetation climbs the canyon sides and most creatures have adapted to this vertical life.
Diyu's skies are almost always hazy, if not outright cloudy, as the world's warm temperatures, volcanism, and low gravity leave the planet under an almost perpetual shroud. Due to the moon’s passage through Yùshān's magnetic fields it has a highly charged ionosphere that has been hazardous to surface-to-orbit travel. Before they were destroyed by the Shohan, its beanstalks were major engineering challenges to emplace, requiring significant grounding and stabilization work.
Most buildings accommodate the weather and tectonics by embracing a flexible nature. To newcomers, the sight of a village swaying in the breeze or shaking with the earth takes some getting used to. Visitors with motion sickness are advised to sleep on the ground floor to avoid most of the motions.
Settlement And History
While habitable by humanity, the biology, geography and atmosphere of Diyu all made it a rather marginal case for settlement and the system was not highly placed on the newly established Colonial Board's list of colonization projects. As such, the Board was fairly surprised when a consortium representing a group of Operários and Martians submitted a colonization permit request. Confusion may have reigned at the Colonial board, but Terran Sphere revenue services eventually caught on to consortium's plan: the group had planned to combine a number of tax breaks set up for formerly oppressed colonial populations, such as the Operários, with ones for marginal environment settlement intended primarily for settlers on the original Chinese colonies. On top of these they wanted to mix in the standard new colonization breaks to create a tax haven for the venture’s investors. The scheme worked long enough for the colony to find its footing, but in recent years, the Terran Sphere Senate and other regulatory bodies had been working on closing down the kind of loopholes on which Diyu was founded.
In the century since, Diyu has developed from a simple tax haven into a robust financial services sector powerhouse that once controlled a significant portion of the loans for privately owned starships. Many small freight and courier outfits were slightly (and very silently) relieved when the ansibles from Diyu fell silent and payment notices no longer came through. Even though the financial services sector was the lifeblood of the colony, many of the Operários that helped found the colony also stuck to their roots and developed a substantial heavy industries sector in the many decades since its founding. These primarily focused on starship R&D. All of the orbital facilities were lost when the Shohan occupied the system, but the planetary industrial base remains more or less intact.
The government of Diyu is a modification of the Union hall system employed in the Stella Insula System: a series of town halls elect speakers to the Planetary Council, which in turn selects from its number a Planetary Speaker who acts as the Chief Executive. However, the position is nominally limited to running the system bureaucracy and doesn’t offer the holder much in the way of policy making leverage.
The Siege of Diyu
After the Massacre of Artemis III, Shohan forces swept through the sector as elements of the 3rd and 2nd fleets raced in to replace the demolished 4th fleet. During those years, Diyu served as a forward base for the TSN, and when the Shohan came the fleet fought hard to save the moon. Despite their efforts, it was not to be. The world fell in a final blitzkrieg attack by the Shohan that, unlike Prospero, left little time to evacuate the colonial population or restock the dwindling tangle supplies.
Initially, the Shohan’s full attention was given to destroying the Terran Sphere’s military force and they were content to place a blockade around the planet as they finished driving the TSN from the sector. When they finally turned their attention to the colony nearly a year later, they initially sent a communication to the planetary government informing it of its surrender and the terms under which they would be operating. They were surprised when this communication was met by a fierce rejection by Planetary Speaker Marcela Liu. The Shohan launched a score of drop pods at the planetary surface, expecting to make short work of the opposition, only to watch in bafflement as tremendous lightning arcs in the planet’s ionosphere destroyed the incoming drop pods. They tried this three times before concluding the colony below must somehow be responsible. Determined to punish the presumptuous Terrans, the Shohan commander ordered the hypercannons loose. Energy gathered, building to a lethal intensity before unleashing at the capital of Nova Fortaleza. It splashed across the upper atmosphere, striping away a tiny bit of it, but leaving the settlement below intact.
For the last several years, the same dynamic has been at play. The Shohan have maintained their blockade of Diyu and attempted at various points to establish a foothold on the surface. So far, a few attempts have established beachheads on the planet, and all of these have been destroyed by colonial forces assisted by lightning strikes. While the colonists have been able to hold off the Shohan, there are increasing concerns about the effects of the siege on the moon. Diyu’s ionosphere is starting to become depleted from repeated hypercannon blasts, risking a faltering defense against Shohan aggression in the short term and exposing the moon’s ecology to the hostile radiation trapped in its primary’s radiation belt in the long.
With the Terran Sphere Navy pouring into the sector in ever increasing numbers, the local Shohan forces are determined to breach the defenses of Diyu and prevent whatever secrets the colonists have uncovered from making their way to the greater Terran Sphere. While the Shohan are slow to change their tactics,
some among them have begun to look intently at Diyu’s moonlet, Saci, as a possible means to achieve their objectives.
Battleground: Siegebreakers (GM Information)
Diyu is currently under siege by the Shohan. While they haven’t managed to establish a foothold on the surface of the moon, they have control of the rest of the system. Currently, most of the Shohan’s mobile assets are clustered around Diyu itself, and total 6 Destroyer squadrons anchored by 3 Dreadnaughts. If the game is using the material presented in the Deployment Companion, then 2 of the Destroyer squadrons are Drone Destroyers. The Shohan have also installed a sensor network around Yùshān and its moons, with additional coverage on the approaches from other stars in the sector. In addition to these eyes and ears in the outer system near the grav shore, at least one of the squadrons is dispatched for patrol duties in the outer system. While there are not enough sensor platforms to cover the entire system, the sensor drones and the patrol both remain in constant motion: jumping through the system, hoping to catch the telltale gravitational eddies of a starship crashing its wave on the grav shore. In addition to their mobile assets, the Shohan have established multiple facilities on Saci that serve as logistics, manufacturing, and repair nodes for the siege forces. These facilities mount between 4 to 6 flare guns similar to those found on Destroyers as defensive emplacements and are protected by a force field (Strength: 60). Once that falls, they are easy targets .
The overall commander for these forces is Star-Overseer Crisiant. The Star-Overseer has been in place since Shohan forces swept through the system. Although he distinguished himself well in the fighting beforehand, even among the Shohan he is rigid in his thinking. However, he is committed to his troops and those under him have formed a true espirit de corps. The Star-Overseer has two principle lieutenants; Squadron Warrior Asgre and Squadron Warrior Emris. Asgre comes from a prominent lineage amongst the currently ascendant sects. In so far as such a thing can be said of a Shohan, she is more of a free thinker, and is inclined to push Shohan tactical doctrine to the limit. Among the Siege’s leadership, she is the principle advocate for a “swift resolution” to their current operation. Emris by contrast is a former Overseer and, despite his change in Caste, retains some of his technical proficiencies. Unlike Asgre, Emris cares more about the loss of life that would result, and the idea of brute forcing the solution offends him on a technical level. While the philosophical divisions will be opaque to Terran Sphere commanders in almost all circumstances, good tactics rolls may allow them to observe the differences in their fighting styles and possibly find a way to use that knowledge to their own advantage.
If the Terran Sphere is to make gains into the sector, Diyu, as one of the worlds with the highest population behind enemy lines in the sector, becomes one of the natural priorities. Conversely, even if the war is going poorly elsewhere in the sector, the Terran Sphere may still attempt a raid to reconnect with the stubbornly defiant moon in the hopes that it can reverse the fortunes of their campaign in the sector.
Initial concerns for the Terran Sphere are going to focus on establishing the situation in the system. The Terran Sphere does not realize that the colony is still resisting at first, but analysts may become suspicious when Shohan mount more aggressive anti-recon patrols than normal, or see the strong jamming field centered on the planet. For the Terran Sphere, their response to these anomalies would likely involve dispatching a DIRT team in a phantom to get a closer look at the situation. If this is the players, they have a potential session of playing cat and mouse with the Shohan patrols, observing an attempt by the Shohan to breach Diyu’s defenses, witnessing Tupã Shield in action, only to finally charge hell for leather towards the grav shore with the Shohan hot on their tail. Should they fail, they might have to seek sanctuary on the planet.
Other complications may come from internal sources; many smaller to mid sized shipping lines have benefitted from the unintended banking holiday on their ship mortgages. The unscrupulous or desparate among these shipping lines might be willing to take action against a recon mission to the system, should they find out about one. Their response may range from pulling whatever diplomatic ties they can leverage to redirect fleet efforts or hiring Consultants to sabotage the mission itself. On a larger scale, the Fleet’s plans to retake the system may result in a slow down in critical supplies as shipping interests start dragging their feet when faced with several years of back payments finally coming due. The more diplomatic among the players may help negotiate some form of settlement for these debts on the Fleet’s behalf.
As pressure on the Shohan siege forces ramps up, they may decide they can not afford to let the Tupã Shield fall into the Terran Sphere’s hands, attempting to bring down the moonlet of Saci on the recalcitrant colony to ensure this never happens. Should the Terran Sphere discover this through its recon efforts, it will serve as a dramatic call to arms as the fleet diverts every available resource to the colony’s aid. Such a mission would have multiple avenues for the players to pursue. Some of the possibilities include: ground assaults on the engine bases built into the moonlet to disable Shohan drives, capital ships ramming into the moonlet and using their drives to counter the moonlet’s fall while lighter craft try to fend off shohan counter attacks, or psionics gathering their mental might to help propel the moonlet off its apocalyptic course.
This can be a make-or-break moment for the Shohan and Terran Sphere forces in the sector. While the sidebar above gives an idea of the initial forces available to the Shohan, it’s possible that additional forces can jump into the system once they realize that the Terran Sphere has arrived in force, providing an additional sense of urgency to the rescue mission. If the Terran Sphere can somehow scrounge up the resources, possibly due to the efforts of the players, there is the potential for the Terran Sphere to sweep up some low hanging fruit elsewhere while this battle in ongoing. On the flip side, it’s possible that the sudden rescue mission here put operations elsewhere, in great danger. New Detroit is one possible site where the loss of forces may upset a delicate timetable.
[Catch Lightning In A Battle]