The Campaign For Ustani Military Conflict in The 12 Worlds | World Anvil
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The Campaign For Ustani

The First Shot

The Campaign for Ustani was the first major engagement of the Chainbreaker War, and the first where the United Commonwealth Army of Upepwani (UCAU) would see action. The battle would be fought across two weeks, starting on the 7th of June with the Xindai Legion's crossing of the inter-provincial border and concluding with the westward withdrawal of its remaining strength on the 18th.   While the armies assembled for the campaign were some of the largest either power had ever raised, both the Empire and the United Commonwealth had never fought in open warfare at such a large scale as they soon would, and this inexperience would show in the fighting.      


Gathering Clouds
With the death of Emperor Sayed II and the ascension of Haroon III to the throne, it was obvious to all who bothered to look that the Upepwani question would soon be decided, one way or another.   Tensions between Imperial authority and the autonomous Province's internal court had been on the rise ever since Sayed's demise., resulting in various unannounced crossings and violations of Upepwani's borders with its neighbouring provinces. Across the 12 Worlds, similarly brazen displays and expressions of Fuhrati might occured, aimed at an international audience.   In the south, matters would first turn violent on the 11th of May, when a patrol of fifty Fuhrati lancers from the Tharoon Guard crossed the border between Upepwani and Xindai and attacked an Upepwani outpost. The border guards who held the small fort, ill equipped militiamen caught unaware, were cut down
The special, secretive relationship between the United Commonwealth and Upepwani had by 75 A.S. existed for well over a decade. Spawned from the UC's desire to undermine the slave-trading and corsair-sponsoring Fuhrati Empire, it took many forms; economic aid to the isolated region, financial and training support to Upepwani's civil government, and limited amounts of military equipment and training.   Ultimately, these efforts would serve to give legitimacy to Upepwani's comparatively liberal and friendly government, support the lives of its population - and utterly infuriate Prince Haroon to no end.
to the man, and their fort raided for loot and intelligence. Further raids of increasing intensity would take place across the border over the course of the next week, reaching their peak on the 17th, the day of Prince Haroon's coronation, which saw three hundred lancers thunder over the border.   With the fragile semi-autonomy and 'liberty' of Upepwani hanging in the balance, the Parliament and people of the UC called for action. In response the Chief Minister of the United Commonwealth, Valentin Desrosiers, finally gave his assent to prearranged plans to send a military force to the beleaguered province.   This formation, formerly known as the Trials Mobile Force and now renamed the United Commonwealth Army of Upepwani, would leave on the 20th of May, on a journey across the Warp that would take twenty five days. On the 7th of June, Emperor Haroon III of the Fuhrati Empire would declare Upepwani Province to be in a state of treason and rebellion against his rule, and order his armies to march east.      
Petty Provincials Please
The fragmented and unwieldy nature of power, leadership, and authority within the Fuhrati Empire is most plainly displayed in the organisation of its military forces. As powerful as Haroon was, marching an army through the Empire to do battle against even an openly treasonous Province threatened to stretch his political capital too far in the eyes of other provincial regimes. With his throne and Imperial court securely in hand, the Emperor set into motion the complex chain of military and political machinations he needed to get his subordinates onboard.   In the south, that would mean dealing with the reliably unstable Xindai Province, and its ruling Arurote dynasty. The young Prince Nikan, current sovereign of House Cidere, was a pushover, but the courtiers he'd inherited gave the Emperor stiffer resistance. They knew that the Tharoon Guard, for all their skill and loyalty, were stretched thin across the realm, and so Provincial Legions would have to be raised and called into the Emperor's service if Haroon's victory was to be swift and certain. Such aid would come at a price.   From the River Soufi to the current inner border, the traitor's lands would be placed under more loyal care. A sizeable region, and compared to most of Xindai a prosperous and well developed one. Wealth, industrial aid, and 'internal security' were requested as well, but it was a point of pride for Xindai's ruling breed that what they deemed as ancestral land be returned. The Emperor would agree to their terms, and with that thirteen thousand Xindai sons would be called to arms.    

Opposing Forces

  Imperial Order Of Battle
The Xindai Legion
With its ranks filled by levied conscripts from across that Province, the Legion of Xindai was one of the largest in the Fuhrati Empire. After it had been made ready for the campaign, the force mustered for the coming invasion numbered some thirteen thousand in fighting strength alone. The whole force was divided into three Katayib, named Akjun, Girgi, and Ruyere for the Clans which ruled over these formation's recruiting grounds and supplied their leadership. In the Province's own style of organisation, each Katayib controlled two Murabae of three Sahm each, analogous to a Commonwealth battalion in size.  
While most of Xindai's strength would be sent east, large portions of the Legion would remain at home. The population's loyalty to their provincial sovereign never recovered from the events of the Xinshu Uprising, and the mobilisation of Xindai's young men did nothing to help. While the Legion had spent the better part of the past decade training in the bloody art of internal suppression, it had far less familiarity with fighting in open battle.
Each Sahm recruited from a village or collection of such settlements, so that its ranks were filled with brothers, cousins, and friends. Reflecting the Province from which they came from, many of them worked in near subsistence level agriculture, and were levied into military service at the age of eighteen for two years. After that, they would be retained in the reserves with sporadic training, to return when called to their Murabae's depot to don their dark green colours once again.   In truth, however, sheer numbers fail to tell the whole story of the Legion. Out of every Sahm's six Khata, only two at most would be equipped with rifled muskets, the rest still armed with smoothbores as old as their youngest men. No cadre of old hands existed to give this mass of conscripts backing or experienced training, and aristocratic junior officership had about as much experience in the roles of their station as those they led.   Crucially, the Legion suffered from two major deficiences; a small park of artillery, and an entirely non-existent force of cavalry. To support three Katayibs and thirteen thousand men, only thirty five guns could be found, put into working order, and crewed by mixed complements of Provincial and Tharoon Guard gunners. The weapons themselves were of an old make, cast in bronze instead of iron, and split between twenty light and fifteen heavy guns. Instead of firing modern shells, only solid shot and grainshot could be employed, at close ranges over open terrain.
While Provincial Legions recruited from within their own realms, the Tharoon Guard drew its numbers from across the Empire. Most were Merkatis from the 'Homeland Provinces', which once made up the Sultanate of Merkat in times long past. Each was ruled by a minor line of the House of Fuhrati, and it was from their seperate Legions that the Guard selected the best for its ranks. They swore fealty to the Emperor, his heirs, and his officers alone, and there was no limit or leash on what they would do in His service.
The Tharoon Guard
Named in honour of the House they served, the Tharoon Guard were the finest soldiers on the continent and their sovereign's most loyal servants. Charged with executing his will across the realm, in Xindai their numbers were organised into two formations; Kubkatayib Amr, and Haras Radwan.   Kubkatayib Amr, named after its aristocratic leader Sayyid Amr of the Sadek line, was one of the finest such formations in the Guard. It controlled three Murabae instead of two, as in most Provincial Katayib, and their ranks were entirely filled with
long serving regular soldiers with at least three years under arms. Amr thus commanded some seven thousand men in his lines, a third by number of the whole invasion force and, in effectiveness, at least half its true fighting potential.   As the Emperor's own, only the finest arms would do. To a man they were equipped with the most modern rifled muskets that Fuhrati industry could produce, fired with percussion caps instead of flint striking steel. With twenty similarly modern guns Amr's artillery was every bit the equal of his partnered Legion, and his gunners were professionals in their craft. While the Guard, too, had not been forced to fight in open battle in two generations, with motivated leaders at every level Kubkatayib Amr was a force to be reckoned with.  
Haras Radwan was a smaller force, under the reins of the younger and far less experienced Emir Radwan of Shad. Aside from small mounted patrols within Kubkatayib Amr, the entirety of the Imperial force's cavalry was contained within the Haras, amounting to two thousand lancers. In addition to their lances, each man carried a short, muzzle-loading carbine hanging from their waist.   These men and horses were organised into two Murabae of three Sahm each, and existed in a strange limbo when it came to their relationship with Amr's command and the force as a whole. While in every military matter the Sayyid was senior, as an Emir of a prestigious dynasty Radwan felt himself entitled to a status at least equal to Amr's. He would thus command his Haras as an independent force,
Haras held a special, vaunted place within the Empire and greater Tharoon Guard. These cavalrymen drew their heritage from the mounted bodyguard of Sultan Thabit Fahri himself, and those admitted into their ranks were considered elite and zealous even by the standards of Guard as a whole. While that age old duty was still theirs to carry out, the Haras had expanded its portfolio in the days since the founding of the Empire, whil retaining their obsession with tradition. When an overt and unmistakeable expression of the Emperor's will needed to be made, it would often fall to the men on their bays to see it through.
alongside instead of under Amr and the Xindai Legion. While Radwan would be obliged to heed Amr's instructions and advice, final say on what would be done with the invasion's cavalry would rest entirely in the hands of a thirty year old princeling with a penchant for extreme self confidence.  
Commonwealth-Upepwani Order of Battle
The 23rd Regiment

As large as the United Commonwealth Army might have been, the need to allocate forces to missions across the 12 Worlds meant that its strength in any one place was rarely great. In the southern plains of Upepwani, this strength was concentrated primarily in the 23rd Infantry Regiment under the young and driven Colonel R.V. Bhola.   The regiment's fighting strength was provided by four battalions. Three - the 3rd Internationals, 1st Penzstadt Guards, and 3rd Kalasil Grenadiers - were infantry units built around four rifle companies each, for a total bayonet strength of fifteen hundred. Owing to the 23rd's independent duties, a battalion of Cavalry was provided in the form of the 2nd Royal
Like its siblings to the north, the 23rd bore little resemblance to any other Regiment in the United Commonwealth Army. Their organisation, tactics, and equipment were the products of several years of special, unique training under Maj. Gen. Faiz al-Saqr's 'Trials Mobile Unit'.   There, the three formations experimented and trained in the operation of motor vehicles such as the Danho Type-D 'Duster' and devised the tactics they would employ to get the best out of their modern tools in a future war whose character few could predict.
Albish Hussars, giving the regiment just under five hundred cavalry. To provide heavy firepower to this numerically small force, the gunners of the 103rd Field Artillery brought with them twenty quick-loading, rifled field guns which effectively outgunned the entire invasion force with their range, accuracy, and rate of fire. To round out the formation, the 256th Pioneers were equipped to provide nearly the full suite of Army engineering capabilities in a small package.  
Although the Katayib was three times as large as the 23rd, in truth the Upepwani force that was present on the southern front should have been much larger. Masud Katayib, a similarly sized contingent of the Upepwani Legion's first rate soldiers, was under previous plans supposed to remain in the south around Ustani and Alhisn in the event of an invasion. However, fear of an overwhelming Imperial force in the north triggered a change of heart in Provincial leadership, and Masud Katayib was subsequently and rapidly sent north.   This alteration, which occured without Commonwealth knowledge or comment, threw the alliance and their contingency plans into near disarray, and would contribute to the stormy relationship between Lt. Gen. Faiz al-Saqr, commanding UCAU, and the leadership of Upepwani.
Lateef Katayib

While the force that the Commonwealth had brought to the Province was large its own standards, when it came to boots on the ground and bodies in the trenches it was Upepwani itself that made the greater contribution. Every settlement and hamlet already controlled had its own militia which would fight in defence of hearth and home, but the single largest concentration of the Upepwani Legion in the southwest was the Lateef Katayib. The formation was named, in Imperial tradition, after its commander, Sayyid Lateef Mirza, and was organised more along the same lines than the Commonwealth's style. The Katayib controlled three Murabae of three Sahm each, which filled their ranks from the same geographically defined lands they would soon fight over.   Compared to the average Provincial Legion, Upepwani's contained a higher proportion of long serving professionals, who gave the masses of green recruits much needed guidance. With subtle Commonwealth aid the Province gained the industry and expertise needed to manufacture modest
amounts of modern rifles, but these were prioritised for those elite units which at this moment were guarding Hurhamba and the Prince. In Lateef Katayib, only one Khata in six per Sahm was armed with bolt action rifles of a modern make, while the balance made do with muskets akin to those in Xindai's ranks. In terms of artillery, a single battery of eight Commonwealth-made field guns was provided, its crews trained by the UC 'advisers' before the war in their use.  
The Band Of Baidar

An unexpected addition to the defender's ranks came in the form of the Band of Baidar. Once a nomadic tribe, distantly descended from the same stock that filled out Xindai's aristocratic crust, their Clan had long fled their old lands to take up new lives in Upepwani. Keeping to their nomadic ways on the open plains near the inner-provincial border, when word came that their adoptive home was under threat many of their number volunteered to
While the Upepwani Legion was predominantly made up of ethnic Merkats, a sizeable portion of the force was composed of Sabto volunteers. While elsewhere their peoples were enslaved as Imperial property, in Upepwani they were granted freedom of a sort. Knowing well the fates that awaited them and their families should their people's last safe home fall, Sabto soldiers would fight on to the bitter end.
take up arms in the Province's defence. Short on numbers already, neither the Colonel nor the Sayyid would refuse their aid.   The Band of Clan Baidar mustered nearly six hundred riders, brave and experienced with their steeds but lacking formal military training. Many brought their own weapons, bows or hunting rifles whose precise source was diplomatically overlooked, and the Katayib provided what muskets it had to spare to make up the difference. What this cohort possessed was intimate knowledge of the region's terrain, as good as or better than Lateef Katayib's. The Band would thus be tasked with providing much needed cavalry to the combined force, operating under Lateef's supervision to keep watch over the invader's every movement.  


  Crossing The Border
Storm Over The River Yin

The war would begin at half past midnight, 7th June, 75 A.S. It's opening shots would by fired by a force of a hundred Guards Lancers thundering down on a small Upepwani border fort, guarding access along the coastal road to Shinxia and one of the few bridges over the River Yin that lay in the invading army's advance.   The militiamen at their posts were cut down to the man, but before they were overrun the garrison's
commander was able to loose a signal rocket, aimed east. It's brilliant, burning red glow was visible for several kilometres that morning, and was enough to warn the anxious defenders of the small hamlet of Shinxia that trouble was on its way. The appearence of half a dozen similar flares within the next hour was enough to convince anyone still sceptical.  
For a task as important and time sensitive as this, sending a messange via courier from Shinxia to Ustani would not suffice. Anticipating the need to ensure rapid communications within the Province, the United Commonwealth had provided several Wireless and Crystal communication kits to the Upepwani government over the years, as well training in their employment. It would be one such machine that would carry this early warning to Lateef's eyes.
Signals were rapidly sent to Alhisn to warn the city that a sizeable force had crossed the border. In Shinxia itself, the militia commander was well aware that his position was barely a day's march from his furthest outposts, and less by horse. With most of the city's civilian population already out, he would order all three bridges across the Yin blown. Left barely two hundred militiamen still left in Shinxia, their commander had no intention of throwing their lives away. Organised into smaller bands led by those who knew the countryside well, they went to ground and dispersed, intent on continuing their resistance once the invaders had reached and continued past their city.
  The Imperial force poured over the border, with Kubkatayib Amr at the vanguard and marching hard. Emir Radwan's lancers, which had so efficiently swept aside the outposts at the frontier, began executing the second phase of their mission. Leaving the masses of infantry behind, Radwan's cavalry was set loose upon the countryside, fanning out north and south of Shinxia itself to secure roads, fords, and small settlements. An advance party, sent to reconnoiter the city, probed its outskirts and found it apparently deserted. To their fury, closer inspection within revealed that the vital bridges had been blown before they could arrive.
Setting The Board
The Legion and Kubkatayib would arrive in Shinxia on the afternoon of the 7th, having marched hard and sustaining sporadic harassment from pockets of resistance along the way. Amr's Guards would march under the city's gates first, with their commander in a foul mood after hearing of the bridges' demolition. In an expression of this general sentiment, a band of a dozen militiamen who'd surrendered to the Guard after a sharp firefight were bound with rope and dumped into the Yin's cold embrace. Shinxia had fallen, but nonetheless it would prove an obstacle.  
Best Laid Plans

By the 9th, all Upepwani soil west of the Yin was in Imperial hands. Smaller detachments of the Guards and the more reliable formations of the Xindai Legion had fanned outwards from the main advance, capturing settlements and seizing what stores and loot they wished, and executing their local authorities. The time had come to execute the second phase of the invasion, but at this crucial moment unexpected events and the commanders of the three conjoined forces seemed intent on pulling the whole affair in entirely different directions.   With Amr's status as the force's most experienced leader, before the invasion it fell to him to direct the course of events. After the swift seizure of Shinxia and the border, 'his' force would split up into seperate Katayibs and spread itself out, advancing eastwards on a line running north to south on a broad front across separate routes and roads. As he viewed it, the region's poor infrastructure made supporting concentrated forces as large as this in one place difficult, and marching along the same road would slow the advance.
Plans for this thorough act of self destruction had been drawn up years before the war had broken out. Upepwani planners had foreseen the utility of denying their enemy easy movement in the river marked south, but lacking the resources or technical expertise in their own ranks to do the job turned to their Commonwealth allies.   Teams of surveyors and observers, mostly from the Corps of Engineers, had created extensive maps detailing every major artery of the Province's internal infrastructure, and applied their skills to devising plans to wreck it beyond quick repair.
  Finally, Amr ordered that Haras Radwan split its ranks, with its lancers to be spread across the line to screen the advance along the whole front. Once contact was made with forces of the Upepwani Legion, whichever katayib met them in battle would fix them in place until the others arrived, and the traitors which would be overwhelmed from every corner and put down.   The destruction of the bridges forced a change to that plan. The wrecking of those in Shinxia had been bad enough to Amr's tightly fixed timetables, but soon advance scouts of the Haras began to tell of wrecked bridges and broken dams running as far north as they could reach in a day. A handful had survived demolition up the Yin, but for a force this large following a plan like Amr's a handful would not be enough.
  A final discovery sealed their fate. Turning over the government offices of Shinxia for anything of value, communiques were discovered outlining this very act of destruction. While Lateef Katayib waited to the east, every path other which led to the venerable hamlet other than a few near the coast should have been similarly damaged.   Amr remained steadfast. He had in his Kubkatayib's engineers some bridging equipment of his own, and with time that capability could be expanded. Still seeing the merits of spreading out on a wide front, Amr opposed an immediate movement that would bottle up the whole invasion and limit its mobility, while scarcely costing much less time.   But the two princes he called his colleagues had differing views. Feeling a sudden rush of elan, Prince Nikan urged action now, and a rapid advance up the coastal road all the way to Ustani and beyond for the glory of Xindai. Radwan was similarly aggressive, hoping that a change of plan would return to him his Haras as a single force, and warned that if they failed to move quickly the long promised reinforcements of the United Commonwealth could suddenly arrive and render the whole exercise fruitless. Outvoted two to one, Amr was forced to concede. He would regret that decision to the end of his days.    
Poking, Prodding

These deliberations would take the better part of two days to resolve, time which Lateef did not waste. With the bridges blown and discrete observers in place, he had a good idea of where his uninvited guests were and where they would likely go next. While fighting them in open battle was a theoretical possibility, Lateef was not about to send his men to their deaths against three to one odds. If he could buy some time, those odds would become two to one.  
The Sayyid had been in constant correspondence with Colonel Bhola well before the latter's arrival at Alhisn, and the two were making plans of their own. Bhola had arrived in the city on the 10th, in advance of the 23rd and its transports which would follow two days later. The Colonel estimated that it would take until the 14th for his Regiment to deploy in force in Ustani. It fell to Lateef to find that time.   The Band of Baidar would now come into play. Small collections of Clan members had already acted against the invasion on their own initiative, joining the irregular resistance efforts of the general population out west. Their harassment of Imperial supply lines, stretching past the border, had led to the allocation of several Sahm from the Xindai Legion to garrison duties along the roads. Now, Lateef would formally authorise these efforts, with the full strength of the Band thrown into the cause.
While most of the 23rd would disembark at Alhisn's Port Marble, and from there be carried by rail and lorry westwards to Ustani for battle, one battalion would arrive by a far more direct route. Ustani had port facilities of its own, but of a far more limited kind compared to the mercantile metropolis, and Bhola would only be able to send a single unit by that route.   The honour would fall to the 256th Pioneers. Arriving on the 17th, the battalion's engineers would unload their equipment as fast as they could. Tasked with making the city as defensible as possible, these engineers immediately set about digging trenches, laying barbed wire, and improving roads coming into the growing fortress.
Drawing Ever Nearer
Very little seemed to lie between Ustani its invaders, and every passing hour brought the undiminished force of twenty thousand ever closer. Not content with only hiding behind their walls and trenches, Colonel and Sayyid began working up a plan to even the playing field.  
Long March

The invaders would finally continue their incursion on the 10th. Supplies were slow to cross the pontoons that now spanned the Yin, and so Imperial forces fell to foraging across the countryside to meet their needs. Ammunition was still in good supply given the lack of serious fighting, but detachments were sent to search every settlement and farm in their path for fodder and food.   Most were deserted by their owners, and thoroughly looted, while any occupied by those who would resist were cut down. Special considerations were made regarding any free Sabto that were found. Every last one was to be captured, and sent back down the lines to be enslaved. Prisoners of war and captured irregulars would share this fate. This work would be carried out by the Tharoon Guard directly
While the slow advance and reliance on living off the land might give the impression that Imperial logistics was entirely deficient, the truth was not so simple. Within the Empire itself there existed a wide reaching, reliable network of railways, whose overriding purpose was to allow the Emperor's forces to move wherever in the realm they wished at speed. That the process of bringing together the current invading forces in Xindai had been carried out in a matter of weeks was a direct result of one of the Empire's greatest strengths.
under an Imperial decree, and officers were promised good credit at the slave markets back home for every successful capture. Proper execution of this grim task was thus well incentivised.  
Things changed once the border was crossed. What little Upepwani rail existed this far west of its main cities was built to Commonwealth standards and gauges, and did not have any connections to the networks of the broader Empire. Only baggage trains of horse drawn wagons could ferry resources from railheads in Xindai to depots closer to the force, until Imperial Engineers could extend the lines.
A distance of just over one hundred and fifty kilometres seperated Shinxia and Ustani as the bird flies, while barely sixty lay between the latter and Alhisn. The flat, open terrain that the Imperials would have to cross was forgiving enough, and if nothing went wrong they would be at the city's gates in only four days. Reality would not be so kind.   While all three Imperial commanders expected to face their enemy at Ustani itself, their deployment on the march reflected caution against a more dramatic manouevre. The Xindai Legion advanced hugging the coast, while Kubkatayib Amr and Haras Radwan
stayed further inland on its left flank to preserve some mobility. Radwan's lancers kept up a screen in advance of the infantry masses, setting themselves upon Lateef's observers while themselves searching for any sign of a larger Upepwani force which might think to strike the Imperial flank.  

Early in the morning on the 12th of June, five days after the 12 Worlds went to hell, a convoy of a dozen ships emerged from the warp thirty nautical miles off the Upepwani coast from Ustani. Two of these were the Cliff-Class cruisers UCS Bolt and Gorge. The rest were a series of transports and liners, carrying the long awaited Engineers of the 256th Pioneers ashore. At long last, the United Commonwealth had come.    
Two hours later, a similarly large flotilla would arrive off of Alhisn itself, coming in without escort and laden with troops and equipment. Among that equipment were several hundred horses, the noble mounts of the 2nd Royal Albish Hussars. While the rest of the 23rd would trickle in over the coming hours and days, the services of these cavalrymen would soon be needed as a key piece in Bhola's and Lateef's plans.   Word of the 23rd's arrival would reach Emperor
While the total escort for UCAU's arrival was supposed to be much larger, events across the Warp and 12 Worlds rendered such plans untenable. Even as the Empire stormed across the continent, battles raged on the waves in a dozen places as Fuhrati and Commonwealth fleets traded shots, ships, and lives.
Haroon's ears within the day, and those of the three commanders in the field not long after that. All were caught off guard, still thinking that the Commonwealth would not have dared to land such a force before doing battle with the Imperial fleet. Still believing that swift victory was possible, the Emperor demanded swift action, even as his commanders began to take another good look at their plans.  
Tricks In Play

Even as the 23rd thundered westwards on rail, wagon, and lorry, on the roads to Ustani the fighting hadn't stopped. Raids by the Band of Baidar against the invader's baggage trains had been put on hold, though roving irregulars beyond Lateef's command carried on. Instead, his riders organised themselves into larger groups, running down isolated foraging parties or patrols from Haras Radwan and overpowering them. Care was taken to ensure that at least a handful made it out alive from every skirmish, surviving to tell their tales to their comrades and commanders.   The Band, it seemed, was every. Its familiarity with local terrain allowed the force to move so quickly, that the running estimate in Radwan's headquarters put their numbers at over a thousand, and more than half their own size. Fears grew that such a cavalry force could be no mere raiders, but instead themselves a screen for a large Upepwani force coming down from the north. The fates of patrols sent to investigate these claims served only to add to that fear.   The final straw came late at night on the 15th, when the advancing Imperial forces were only forty kilometres west of Ustani. A large force of Lancers had overrun what appeared to be an advance base of Commonwealth and Upepwani observers, and captured communications equipment, documents, and messages sent and received. These appeared to show that the post did not belong to those forces in the city, but another at least a Katayib in strength that lay to the northeast still a few days away and planning to come down.   These claims were, of course, entirely fictitious, the handiwork of one of Bhola's more savvy intelligence officers. But in the absence of much else in the realm of intelligence sources, the imperial commanders had to take them seriously. There was a chance that this force Masud Katayib, which was known to have been sent away some weeks ago. If that formation was allowed to go unchecked while the Legion and Kubkatayib were committed to the fight for the city, the consequences could be disastrous.   But, that danger seemed distant for now, and by the 16th there was time to alter their plans. Again at Amr's direction, the main body of troops would encamp for the night at the hamlet of Arabab, twenty kilometres southwest of Ustani, allowing time to prepare its artillery train and rest the troops for battle after a long march. Haras Radwan, on the other hand, would finally get its independence. The cavalry were to head north, this time as a concentrated force, to find and engage the mythical Katayib coming down from there in a delaying action while the Legion and Kubkatayib stormed the city. There was no question of two thousand Lancers holding them back for long, but a delay of even one or two days should be enough for Ustani to fall. Then, the imperial force could direct its attention fully to the new arrivals, and crush them.

The Valley Of Death

The Last Ride of Radwan's Lancers

On The Right Bank

Shot And Shell


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