Many years ago for a Null Sec publication aimed at capsuleers, I wrote a series of well received articles starting with “Carriers 101.” (Of course, given the technology changes, these are completely out of date.) It was aimed at new capital pilots. One of the things that I stressed to these newly minted capital pilots was that “everyone wants to kill you.”
To every Imperial subject, and doubly so for the nobility, holders, and others in high standing: “Everyone wants to kill you.”
Okay, obviously not everyone, but living by this sentiment is good for longevity. There are billions, trillions of people outside the Empire that want you dead for various reasons. Blooders because they’re, well, Blooders. That’s kind of what they do. There are Tribal Minmatar who want to kill every last slaver and Amarr for the enslavement of ‘their’ people. The sanity of these people, nor the legitimacy of their reasons do not factor into this calculus. They have the skill set, the equipment, and the willpower to see their attacks through, if given the chance.
By God’s Grace, they are held at bay by the might of the Imperial Military, Navy, Marines, Army, and the forces of the royal houses. However, as we have seen at Kahah and Thebeka and Alkabsi, sometimes, the worst happens.
Deathglow provides a new vector of attack for the Blooders. Rather than risk themselves, they instead drop Deathglow on a population and watch the chaos. In the chaos, Tribal agents insert themselves to carry out their agenda, and begin setting up a slave rebellion. It is highly effective. Currently, there is no way to stop a Deathglow attack in progress. They can only be stopped aforehand. Currently, Imperial forces are working to identify the staging areas for these attacks, the persons behind them and then destroy them with extreme prejudice. House Sarum even has an expedition in Delve to search out Covenant facilities that support attacks in the Empire.
That said, there are myriad precautions and strategies that a holder (or military advisor to a holder) can take to mitigate the effect of a Deathglow attack.
Before I get into that, who am I and why should you care?
I am the Marshal Protector for Lady Newelle of House Sarum. I flew with her in the Amarr Trials and represented House Sarum in the Trials of Fire and Blood. Since she was elevated to Holder, I have served as her military director and overseen the plans for the defense of Damnidos Para’nashu on Mekhios. Before that, I was a Caldari Navy Marine officer. I saw combat in several instances, including the Liberation of Caldari Prime. Most recently, I commanded Para’nashu forces on the ground in Alkabsi, helping to end the rebellion there.
So, there’s a good chance that if things go sideways on your planet or holding, my Marines and I will be among those that come to assist.
As a career military officer, I generally am able to think of seven different ways things can go catastrophically wrong before breakfast. After breakfast, I set about defending against them. From early on, I knew that a chemical attack against Mekhios was not only possible, but had been carried out in the past by the Elder Fleet. So, in addition to the gun batteries, shield generators, and defensive bunkers hidden throughout the city, I planned for a chemical attack. There are stratospheric sensor units flying above Para’nashu, plus sensors on spires, at ground level and various places through the water system. While Deathglow was not programmed into them until recently, Insorum was a known agent and would have been spotted.
Immediate and early detection of chemical agents is a critical first step to surviving the attack. Insorum has its own problems to defend against, but they are long term effects. Deathglow is immediate. Luckily, Deathglow is easily defended against by gas masks and other air rebreather systems. Every holder, or commander, should ensure that all of their troops carry on them gas masks. (It weighs less than a kilo and works. Seriously.) Ideally, everyone would have a gas mask. However, that sort of procurement will take time, so prioritize the men and women with guns.
Every decently-sized building in Danmidos Para’nashu has an RCBN (radiological, chemical, biolocial, nuclear) shelter in the basement. This is a large room stocked with water and food. There is a sewage recycling system as found on starships. Additionally, they have effective air filtration systems and are overpressured. In theory, these shelters can accommodate everyone that might be in the building plus ten percent. In practice, we can shove a few more in there if they don’t mind the discomfort. There are also stand-alone shelters for residential areas. In short, especially given the recent Deathglow attacks, everyone in Para’nashu knows where the nearest shelter is for where they are at the time.
These rooms also exist in the slave dormitories. They, of course, are made a little differently. In the event of a chemical attack, one of the main priorities of the guard forces is to get the slaves to the shelters and lock the door.
One of the things we have seen is looting of armories. Obviously constable armories will need to be readily and easily accessible, given the volume of weapons moving in and out. However, military armories, with heavy, crew-served weapons should be reinforced to provide at least 24 hours of resistance to most class IV threats. (If someone is going to point a starship weapon at your vault door, there’s not really much you can do about that, but someone with hand-held power tools should take a day.) Deathglow seems to last two-three days in effect. Imperial responders from off world and unaffected areas can respond in less than 24 hours. Not having to face rebels armed with heavy weapons will make everyone’s life easier. (Except the rebels.)
The first 24-48 hours are going to be chaotic. The thing that troops and unaffected personnel should do is shelter in place immediately. Once a clear chain of command is in place, then troops can start to secure routes around the affected areas. The goal is not the elimination of rioters, but to ensure that friendly forces can move effectively to keep shelters and other pockets of civilization secure. There should already be an emergency evacuation plan, and now is the time to look to put it in effect. Unaffected subjects, slave, and non-combatants should be moved out of the affected areas under military protection. As military vehicles are already CBRN resistant, having people ride in the back of APCs isn’t a bad move.
When Para’nashu forces landed on Alkabsi, we had two primary and sometimes competing objectives. The first was to locate, close with and destroy the enemy. The second was to find non-combatants and escort them out of the battlespace. Generally speaking, I liked to drop artillery on enemy positions before assaults, however, if we believed there was a chance of non-combatants in the area, we refrained. And, generally speaking, it’s far better to throw a frag through the door than a flash-bang.
And yes, if it is practicable, please evacuate your slaves too.
If it is not practicable, then leaving anyone, slave or subject, in a fortified shelter is actually a pretty good choice. As Imperial forces push into your city, if they know anyone running about isn’t supposed to be running about, it makes the the decision to engage easier. During the initial phases, we used less than lethal weapons to subdue unfortunate souls under the effect of Deathglow. However, in combat, nothing ever goes according to plan, and Minmatar agents can be on the ground in short order. In short, the less likely we are to encounter non-combatants, the more firepower we can bring to bear.
To the holders out there, this is important. You need to get out. Go be somewhere else, like on a space station. The less the mission is about rescuing VIPs and more it is about killing bad guys, the faster Imperial forces can end the rebellion. Knowing that the local lord or lady is somewhere secure lets us focus on the mission at hand: getting your holding back to you as soon as possible.
So, once the Deathglow attack occurs, if the situation has degraded to the point where local forces are not able to regain control in short order, help will be coming. (Plan for the worst, hope for the best.) The commander or holder should not hesitate in deciding whether to hold or evacuate. If the time comes to evacuate, do so. There is no shame in a tactical regroup.
Off-world forces can arrive in as little as twelve hours, though plan for twenty-four. At that time, the commander on scene will want to talk to the local holder and/or military commander of house guard forces and coordinate the response. Additionally, having caches of supplies in remote landing locations is also incredibly helpful. When standing up Para’nashu forces, the regiments were always intended to be defensive in nature for the first years of their existence. Alkabsi pushed their internal logistics capabilities beyond what they could handle. While that issue is being address, the point remains that the less food, water, and other supplies that are being landed, the more transport capacity can be used to land troops and weapons.
“If you are not winning quickly, you are losing slowly.”
I explained this so many times to my Marines. There is no slow and measured response, no long siege to be had. The longer any rebellion or unrest goes on, the more outside groups will try to take advantage of it. The pacification of Kahah took so long that even commoners have joined the Kahah Free Army. Every day that goes on, Minmatar capsuleer groups will attempt to intervene, dropping weapons and, in some cases, special operations forces. Rapid, aggressive operations can and do result in higher than normal casualty rates and collateral and property damage. However, a military action that lasts a week with high casualties is overall more desired than a month long action with normal casualty rates.
The longer an area is outside of full Imperial control, the higher risk that Minmatar Capsuleer groups will insert terrorists cells and insurgency organizers. There were some cases of weapons caches found on Alkabsi that were placed for future operations.
There might be cases where we need to watershot some buildings, turn some plazas into craters. And while it is true that us military types enjoy large explosions, we are cognizant of the fact we’re operating in the Empire. A warrior is someone that puts their mortal body between their home and loved ones, and war’s desolation. So, we will keep collateral damage to a minimum, but have insurance. Nowhere is off limits to attack, even churches. (Otherwise, the rebels would just hold up in churches. Though, while we might blow the door in, we’re not likely to blow the building up.)
The shock and awe of a combined arms assault is awesome to behold. So, I beg on the sake of any commander who finds herself in the situation to assist a holder in a Deathglow incident, that the holder please let them do their job. Yes, the Kaba Springs Mineworks is critically important, and yes, we know that it will take a year to get back into full operation, but there was no way to take it that was less damaging.
Don’t Panic . . . Too Much
The Blooders are out there with Deathglow. The Minmatar are out there with pointy sticks. There is plenty to be concerned with. Though, it is not the end. These threats can be planned for. They can be protected against. In several cases, Deathglow attacks have failed because of precautions taken. So, while a wise holder will prepare, they will not be frozen in fear. On Sehmy III and Mabnen I, the Deathglow attacks resulted in a day’s inconvenience. Yes, there was some unrest and destruction, but nothing significant.
And because someone is going to bring up TCMCs in regards to those planets: inserting TCMCs into Imperial subjects is right out. So, regardless of the slaves, shelters and gas masks would still be needed for free subjects of Her Majesty.
Secondly, this whole TCMC thing screams trap to me. It’s such an obvious counter that it seems like that is what the Blooders want. Do I have any evidence that the Blooders have an electronic virus program made to ensure a mass rebellion at X date and time? No. Was I concerned with this even before the incident in the State? Yes.
Ultimately, the choice on whether to use TCMCs or not is left to the holder. From a military planning perspective, it makes no difference.
The Blooders only have one major success using Deathglow, and that was at Kahah. Thebeka lasted longer, though is back in Imperial hands. In both cases, the lack of aggressive action at the outset from Imperial troops can be compared to Alkabsi. On Alkabsi, from the moment Sarum forces hit the ground, they were decisively engaged. If my Marines were not in contact, they were moving to contact. And although my losses were higher than I might have liked for the operation at hand, it proved to be effective.
Deathglow attacks are not an existential threat to the Empire. On the scale of a Khanid Holder turning Blooder (like Silas Vitalia or Ithiria Deritan) to a Drifter Invasion, Deathglow is a greater than average terrorist threat.
Pray for the best, plan for the worst. God Protects.
Amen and pass the ammunition.