Clarke's Third Law
Current Politics of the Sector
War with the Aslan is inevitable. The desire for territory is irresistible to the Aslan males, so sooner or later they must invade new worlds. The only question is, when?
The Trojan Reach is the borderland between the great power of Charted Space – the Third Imperium – and an aggressive, expansionist power. The Hierate has advanced to within twenty parsecs of the Imperial border and shows little sign of slowing down. Every generation, the Aslan come closer to Imperial territory. In two hundred years at current rates, Imperial worlds – not merely client states but full members worlds – will be seen by the Aslan as prime targets for ihatei invasions. Neither side can easily avert this conflict.
For the Aslan, the problem is a cultural one – the young landless males have to go somewhere and conquering new territory is preferable to infighting within the Hierate. The clans might be able to deflect the young warriors, sending them into Beyond or the unclaimed subsectors of the Trojan Reach like Egryn, but this is a stopgap measure.
Analysis suggests that in most cases, the Imperium would win the conflict. The Aslan clans have proved unwilling to co-operate on military matters except in rare cases and no one clan is a match for the Imperium. An Aslan war, however, would be immensely messy. There would be no grand armadas pitted against each other in key systems, no precision strikes against fortress worlds. Instead,the Imperium would face a few Aslan capital ships, which would be formidable but not insurmountable foes and a vast swarm of smaller raiders and ihatei warbands. These warbands would sweep through Imperial space, conquering minor worlds by the dozen. The Aslan are capable of mustering tremendous fighting forces from among their male population and each Aslan is the
equivalent of a trained human soldier. The problem with a warrior race is that they are all warriors on some level.
Such a mass invasion could be defeated but it would take decades to root out every petty Aslan conquerer and guerrila fighter. The Aslan Border Wars lasted nearly two thousand years; based on that model, an Aslan invasion of, say, Tobia and Gazulin could involve three years of conflict and thirty years of police action removing the Aslan invaders from backwater worlds. It is a victory of sorts but would be hugely costly for the Imperium.
More pessimistic analysts argue that this confidence may be misplaced. If an Aslan/Imperium conflict began, then the war would draw warriors and mercenaries from all over the Hierate. The population in the Trojan Reach would be swelled by recruits from all over the galaxy. If the war reached a tipping point, then it could escalate immensely. Projections show that the Hierate could overrun the whole Reach within five years in the right conditions, especially if the Imperium were distracted by another frontier war with the Zhodani or a civil war.
The Peace of Fthair may block Aslan attacks on the Imperium. Technically, the Peace only applies to the clans who signed it and only a few of those clans are active in the Trojan Reach. The Aslan may respect the treaty to honour those clans or those clans might even attack anyone who breaches the treaty. More likely, though, the Aslan will decide that the Peace only applies to the human ‘clans’ who fought in Reaver’s Deep and that the Imperium in the Trojan Reach is too far away from the Deep to be honoured in the same way. While many in the Imperium, especially in Tobia and Gazulin subsectors, hide behind the Peace of Fthair as if it guarantees peace with the Aslan, a paper treaty may not be proof against the razor-sharp claw of the invader.
Of course, Aslan infighting may render all these fears of a mass invasion fanciful. The Cultural Purge of a thousand years ago set Aslan expansion and development back by centuries and the Ya’soisthea is at least as divided as the Aslan of that era were.
If another two or three clans break off like the Glorious Empire did, then the ensuing conflicts would absorb the energies of the ihatei for several generations.
The Subsector is ruled by a Duke.
The Aslan and Everyone Else
The Aslan are the thousand-ton elephant in the room when considering the rest of the Trojan Reach. They are a highly advanced and territory-hungry power; two-thirds of the Reach is made up of small, lightly defended worlds ready to be conquered.
Thus far, the Aslan have been lazy when it comes to conquests, picking off worlds at their leisure. Their ongoing wars with the Glorious Empire and Florian League have also sapped some
of their enthusiasm for conquest – but any day, a particularly charismatic ihatei or ambitious clan could launch an invasion of any of two dozen worlds. Half the Reach worlds survive solely because the Aslan have not yet bothered to conquer them.
Some worlds are aware of the Aslan threat but have failed to rally any coalitions to resist the inevitable invasion. The Kingdom of Drinax, the one independent coalition that acknowledged the danger posed by the Aslan, was destroyed with almost casual ease by the clans. Other defence pacts might be more successful at warding off invasion, as the Aslan tend to go for the weakest targets first. Most planets, though, are more concerned with internal or local politics than the Aslan Hierate.
For these unfortunates, the sign of trouble will come when the Aslan warriors arrive and claim the planet as their new domain.
The Glorious Empire
There is a saying in the Reach – ‘when cats fight, Goertal bleeds’. The Glorious Empire is fighting a losing war against the Aslan Hierate and when the Empire loses worlds to its cousins, it tends to respond by conquering more human worlds and enslaving the population. The Glorious Empire’s borders have moved six parsecs coreward since it was formed as worlds change hands at either end.
The Empire’s recent setbacks are by no means irreversible. A shift in Ya’soisthea politics could divide the clans battling against the Glorious Empire, giving the slaves a chance to reclaim lost territory or fortify their position and slow their decline. Conquering a few more choice worlds like Colony Six or Delta Theta could also give the Glorious Empire the strength
to stall a Hierate advance.