The Elder War
The Elder War culminated in a massive invasion of Amarr territories in YC110 that sought to liberate the significant Minmatar population still enslaved there after the Rebellion. A long-term clandestine effort by the Elders - without the official sanction of the Republic government - the rescue effort was aborted following the Battle of Mekhios, where the returning Jamyl Sarum decimated one of the three large Minmatar fleets the Elders had assembled.
Preparations for War
Following their survival during the Day of Darkness, the Elders sought to rescue those that had been taken and set about forming a network of people who could be trusted, initially amongst the Nefantar. Leaders of this tribe mobilized to protect the Elders.
The network's ultimate goal of returning of all those taken by the Amarr during the Day of Darkness stalled at several key junctures. In the early years the cooperation of key Nefantar and the formation of the Ammatar Mandate was motivated by opportunism. Key tribal leaders outside the network had already suggested that they cooperate, especially when they learned that the Ni-Kunni had once been slaves. When the Elders heard of this idea their own concern was the obvious disparity between the two cultures' technological advancement and the need for strategic intelligence before a rescue could be mounted. It was felt that Nefantar capitulation would leave Matari collectively in a unique position to study, learn and steal from their new masters, passing on tactical knowledge that was to be used to instrumental effect during the eventual invasion. Those leaders loyal to the Elders therefore backed the plans of those keen to form an alliance with the Amarr and almost immediately started sending information back to the network. This intelligence came at a cost however, causing bitterness that threatened the Elders' plans.
During the Vindication Wars that resulted, as Minmatar fought their kin, there were several points where plans and loyalties were almost revealed to prevent further hostilities. Sammar Utulf, ancestor of Ana Utulf, surprised many when he had supported cooperation in the initial formation of the Elder network, and his backing managed to convince many Nefantar whose loyalties had been torn that the decision was in the best interests of all Minmatar. In the years that followed he often made passionate pleas to the other tribes to put an end to the increasing violence that was being directed against the Ammatar. The Elders at first supported his efforts, also keen to ensure that there was no bloodshed, so it was ironic that the events that followed were to have such a profound effect on the Vindication Wars. It was Sammar's cousin Brecin that led the revolt that took place in 22486 and he who also convinced Sammar's eldest son to join him. After storming a meeting between the entourages of Utulf and an Amarr delegate, sparing few, Brecin took the delegate's son hostage. He then retrieved a black dagger that he had constructed for the event and then proceeded to slit the throats of both the Amarr heir and the surprised son of Sammar in front of both their fathers. This act came to be replicated often throughout the Vindication Wars, as modern weapons were put aside in favour of increasingly ornate black daggers and bloody, theatrical violence against Ammatar. Sammar was spared on this occasion, and distraught, he indicated to the Elders his desire to reveal the deception of the Nefantar, so that such an act would never be repeated. He was found dead the next day, after an apparent suicide.
Only a year later an Ammatar military contact had a facility under his charge obliterated in an explosion that claimed many lives and left him scarred. Soon after he returned to work he arranged for the Nefantar Elder to visit him and ended up being seen by the Thukker Elder as well. That evening he attempted to incinerate the building in which they slept. He had felt that the explosion at his factory had come about as a retaliation for targeted sabotage of Amarr infrastructure nearby that had gone badly and resulted in the death of agents under his command. He blamed the Elders for causing unnecessary strife. The network had learned of both this and a simultaneous rendezvous he had organised with a reporter to expose the network, both of whom were found in a bullet-ridden vehicle only blocks from the blaze. While this event didn't have the same profound effect on the Matari consciousness as those surrounding Sammar Utulf, in private it was the event that convinced The Elders of something they had debated many times since the Day of Darkness. Despite their ties to the mother world, desire to lead the beleaguered underground resistance in-person and reluctance to heed concerns for their safety, it was time to leave Matar. They were spirited away from the planet by Thukker who had started stockpiling military assets for the proposed Elder War elsewhere.
Morale was low amidst the network now that the Elders were no longer physically present and in response to the various betrayals and cruelties of the Vindication Wars. Spirits were bolstered significantly by the Minmatar Rebellion in 23216 AD, however, when it looked like the fleet elements already being assembled by the Elders would be mobilized entirely. Millions of enslaved Matari were already being freed from Amarr territories, which had been their principal motivation for the military build-up. Events had transpired, however, that destabilized the Elders, stopping them capitalizing on the Rebellion and making their return.
The Thukker, Starkmanir and Nefantar Elders had been recruiting amongst militants on Eanna in the Hror system of Metropolis when they were caught up in a reclamation themselves and herded onto Bestowers. The other Elders had learned of their brethren's capture and immediately started debating an early mobilization of their existing forces. Plans had already discussed the possibility of moving into Amarr space through Derelik, so intelligence detailing the riot in the Diemnon planetismal's mining complex in Hahyil served to provide a preliminary target. The Elder fleet was almost revealed and many within the network called for it, especially the already suffering Nefantar now that their Elder was one of those captured. The debate about whether an operation in Derelik would result in the loss of the element of surprise, key to a successful invasion, continued until news arrived that the captured Elders were dead.
The network fractured. Many lost patience with the slow accumulation of ships and the secrecy required and instead utilized the chance to strike that soon arrived following the Battle of Vak'Atioth. There was sufficient lack of accountability amidst the events of the Rebellion that the sudden appearance of extra fleet elements were taken for granted, but the Elders still sought to keep themselves hidden from view and presumed dead, especially now that news of the deaths in Derelik could potentially come to light and threaten the momentum that had been gained. They did not stop members of the network contributing to the Rebellion that took place and they eventually welcomed them back, but the fleet that remained after the Minmatar Rebellion was weakened. They were still held back by the difficulties inherent in gathering resources while remaining hidden from the public eye, reeling from division and dealing with the loss of the Thukker, Starkmanir and Nefantar Elders. New candidates were found to fill the void that had been left by the deaths on Diemnon, but this took time.
Morale increased slowly with the Minmatar that had been liberated in the Rebellion. While the liberation that resulted from the conflict galvanized those who had been working to free the Minmatar, since it seemed that their mission had effectively been completed, to the surprise of the entire network the Elders chose to continue to plan and wait. Their aim was still the liberation of enslaved Matari, and while some had risen up to defend and free themselves, many others had not been able to due to their physical addiction to Vitoc. A significant number of Matari still remained in Amarr territories and the Elders still needed to act. Without a means to counter the effects of the addictive drug a rescue would not be achieved.
Federation Support and Insorum
While the people of the Federation, particularly the ethnic Gallente, had always supported the Matari in their plight, it was the Matari's quest to liberate themselves and rebuild their society that adhered most to its principles. The Federation assisted the new Republic, encouraged by its willingness to adopt a government that mirrored its own. In doing so, the Federation government pledged a remarkable amount of financial support, intended for reconstruction, which was set down as a percentage of the total fiscal budget, scaled in perpetuity with the economy's performance.
Steps were immediately taken to ensure that the Elder network became a place where a significant portion of this pledge was funnelled, in the hopes that the sluggish acquisition of military assets was accelerated. It was this liberal injection of funds that insured that those chosen were able to move into positions of authority should they not already be in them and, most significantly, to start establishing staging grounds for massive fleets, continuing to be built in secret amidst the infrastructure being established by the Thukker tribe. Three staging areas in the Great Wildlands, known as the Sanctuaries, were established.
Each of the three Task Forces established there were to be spearheaded by a Ragnarok-class titan, accompanied by 12 Naglfar dreadnaughts. These fleets were to be given individual targets in a series of surgical strikes that would take place nearly simultaneously so as to prevent a singular response. While one of these fleets was intended for the territories of the heirs, with the development of CONCORD it was clear that another task would be to potentially immobilize forces that would interfere with the liberation of Matari people, which was seen to be the right of the tribes the Elders embodied.
While working with agents in the Federation, the Elders' network celebrated with the revelation that Otro Gariushi had secured a sample of the Insorum prototype and was reaching out to the Republic as a potential bidder for the supply pipeline he had established. Thankfully it was Maleatu Shakor who served as the point of contact. A significant player in the Elder's network, and a member of the significant Defiants presence in the ranks, he immediately sought to secure Insorum for the Elder Fleet. While he was initially outbid in meetings with Ishukone's CFO, Kinachi Hepimeki, Otro Gariushi made the final decision that the Republic would soon be in receipt of the Insorum vaccine. With their Titans nearing completion, the Elders would soon have everything they needed to act. The only obstacle would be that CONCORD would never allow the operation to proceed.
The Ambassador of the Elders
Reluctant to dedicate elements of their fleets to the possibility of hostilities with CONCORD, the initial desire of the Elders was to inform the police-keeping force of their intentions and hope that they would not interfere. They needed a representative. With his speech before CONCORD, the recently inaugurated Keitan Yun attracted their attention. Shakor had already been asked to keep an eye on Yun as a potential part of the Elders' network, and his stellar reputation and establishment as a representative in the CONCORD Assembly had secured his pre-eminence for the role. With the timetable accelerating, Yun was taken to one of the Titans in the Sanctuaries after his dismissal from his first session, and there met the seven Elders, whom he had lectured about as a university historian. Yun initially took issue with funds that were supposed to have been distributed to rebuild the Republic instead being used to create the Elder Fleet, but he was honoured to represent the seven embodiments of the Minmatar tribes, and keen for the Republic to defend itself against tyranny.
Yun became the Ambassador of the Elders, asked to use the same passion he'd demonstrated at the CONCORD Assembly in doing what he could to prevent hostile engagement should they try and interfere. The Elders also revealed that the Starkmanir still existed under the protection of the Nefantar and there were complicitous elements within the Ammatar Mandate, both of which soon faced exposure. Overall, one third of the Minmatar were still held in bondage, and the time to act was near.
A Word of Warning
Yun had been in two minds, but after surviving an attempt on his life by agents of Amarr Chamberlain Dochuta Karsoth in response to his actions in Yulai, he went to Republic President Karin Midular to inform her and found that she was now facing a vote of no confidence, initiated by Shakor. With much of the Republic apparently under covert assault, Yun requested that he be allowed to contact CONCORD for permission to retaliate against slavery, though he did not reveal this was at the behest of the Elders. Midular threw him out.
Yun took this as a sign that his time with the Republic was over, and now he was free to act on his own initiative to fulfil the will of the Elders. He left on a Wolf-class frigate and contacted Chair Speaker Pauksuo at CONCORD, indicating that he wished to discuss the diplomatic and military options of the Republic in advance of the declaration of a state of emergency now that Midular's leadership was in question. He also requested that DED representation was also present, and so DED Admiral Kjersidur Elladall was in attendance for what followed.
Yun took the opportunity to issue both authorities a warning. He indicated that Karsoth had made an attempt on his life and stated again that Minmatar had a right to defend themselves from Amarr subjugation, especially now that they were sponsoring assassination. Yun asked both representatives if they would interfere with Matar seeking justice. He was about to be dismissed in response when a large section of the Elder Fleet jumped through a cynosural field in Yulai, surrounding the station. For several tense moments CONCORD ships mingled with the intimidating presence of fifteen Nalglfar-class dreadnoughts and their cavalry of battleships, cruisers and assault frigates. Keitan took the opportunity to stipulate that CONCORD and the DED would have limited time to reconsider their intention to intervene if Minmatar started fighting against the Amarr, and that he would return to receive their response in due course. Following this the threatening fleet departed , and Yun was soon announced by CONCORD Chief of Staff Kivas Odakaas as a "person of interest" in the investigation that followed.
CONCORD Taken Offline
Only days after he had presented his ultimatum to CONCORD, backed by the threat of another show of force from the Elder Fleet, and spurred by the news of the Starkmanir found on Halturzhan, Yun makes contact again. He appears before Chair Speaker Pauksuo dressed in Republic parliamentary robes. Pauksuo's response is to declare Yun an enemy of CONCORD and call for his immediate surrender to be arrested for multiple violations of CONCORD statute. In response, Yun states emotionally "May God have mercy on your soul" before he severs the connection.
A cynosural beacon activates in Yulai soon afterward, and hundreds of Minmatar warships enter the space. Dozens of Naglfar-class dreadnaughts, followed by multiple squadrons of heavy assault cruisers and battleships entering the system through the Kemerk and Tourier gates escorted by assault frigates and interceptors bearing both Republic Fleet and Thukker Tribe markings - the entirety of one of the Task Forces that had been assembled.
While the Elders had hoped that the demonstration of power would be enough to reduce the possibility of a conflict that could result in mutually assured destruction, DED Admiral Kjersidur Elladall fired the first shot of the battle in defense of CONCORD. Sentry guns of the station were taken out first by the Elder's forces, which then prompted Elladall to order stargates entering Yulai to be shut down. Comm towers became the primary targets targets as soon as the defences and shields of the base are down. A Titan comes through as they are being fired upon and damaged ships are evacuated as Minmatar clear the field and retreat to the Ragnarok, allowing it to fire it's doomsday device into the assembled fray orbiting the station. The CONCORD base is destroyed, and Pauksuo and Elladall are killed, though the Admiral, a capsuleer, awakens in a clone.
CONCORD is taken offline in a battle that lasts little more than fifteen minutes.
The Elder Invasion
In Jarizza at the Asghatil stargate an Ammatar patrol was taken out by sixty ships while Insorum was fired into the atmosphere of planets. The warheads that carried the payload detonated in the air and drones also sprayed it through the lower atmosphere of each world. One location assaulted in this fashion was the northern hemisphere of Halturzhan.
In Sandruez, capital of Halturzhan, Ammatar Consulate Governor Ana Utulf, a part of the Elder's network, kills her security advisor, an agent of Karsoth, and then releases a statement to the Ammatar populace. News of what is occurring is delivered Chamberlain Karsoth as his aide, Camoul Hinda, reads this statement aloud, despite the proxy leader of the Amarr protesting at her public display. Paladins, officers and technicians hear the news, which is closely followed by reports of a Ragnorak-class titan jumping into the Kor-Azor region.
Battle in Amarr Space
The Irshah, Amola and Jayneleb systems all surrendered immediately and willingly to the Minmatar as soon as the fleet appears. Chamberlain Karsoth contacted Imperial Grand Admiral Kezti Sundara as events began to unfold who advised him that Ammatar space was not worth defending, lying about establishing a defense in Kor Azor. As soon as the conversation is over Sundara ordered all fleet commanders to instead converge on Sarum Prime. He informed his crew that Sarum would be the next target and that Jamyl Sarum was alive and would lead them into battle.
The conflict in Kor Azor Prime was therefore largely bypassed by fleet elements. As groups of 4 MTACs were propelled in rocket sleds to orbital stations, were they immediately set about infiltrating air circulation systems for the dispersal of Insorum. In light of this development, an order goes out amongst the Amarr to start executing all slaves on station. Efforts to carry this order out are hampered as the tainted air infiltrates the systems. While Insorum itself is usually toxic, it had been found that in aerosol form it served to make those not also exposed to Vitoc only extremely ill over time, occasionally with long-term consequences.
Grand Admiral Sundara rallied at Mekhios in an Avatar-class titan, accompanied by a significant fleet. Slaves on the surface below were being hidden or executed now that the Amarr were aware of the use of Insorum to liberate them. Surface-to-air defences opened fire on dropships as they descended and troops on the ground faced heavy opposition, even from slaves not exposed to Insorum.
In Minmatar space, members of the Republic Fleet started abandoning their posts to join the fight against the Amarr, much as members of the Elder's network had done during the Rebellion. Many responded to news that had started to filter out that the Defiants were amongst the Thukker and other Matari vessels under the leadership of the returning Elders. This followed the huge swell in tribal pride following the acknowledgement that the Starkmanir survived and the suggestion that the Nefantar would be redeemed despite the Ammatar Consulate denying any advance knowledge of events. Refugees also fled Republic territories in response to both the conflict and the breakdown of Karin Midular's government. Amidst the heavy traffic, Mammoth-class ships entered Minmatar space carrying Midular, Yun and assassins of the Elder network intent on targeting agents of Karsoth inside parliament. Grand Admiral Kasora Neko targeted these ships at first, but then allowed them to cross the Bei-Colelie border and head into Uttindar after a conversation with Midular. Neko also gave a new order to those still guarding the gates - to move to crossings into Amarr space and prepare for attack.
A Strategic Withdrawal
Meanwhile, the battle raged above Mekhios. Forty-five minutes after hostilities had been initiated by the Elder fleets, Amarr forces started to withdraw from the conflict in this system. Thinking themselves victorious, Minmatar did not pursue but instead continued to try and retrieve slaves from the battlefield below.
Jamyl's Abaddon then arrived on the scene, accompanied by the twelve Arch Guardians of the Citadel in Apocalypse-class battleships. The superweapon she had aboard was activated, destroying the Elder's Sarum Task Force. The Elder Fleet's communications network went offline for troops on the surface below and many who looked skyward witnessed the explosive end to the campaign. Some Minmatar started killing themselves or the slaves they couldn't rescue in response.
The order to evacuate came too late for many and those still fighting faced a five minute countdown before they were to be abandoned. The Sarum Theatre Task Force had effectively been wiped out. Though some troops remained oblivious to this fact, the short window for extraction was a clear signal to all that the tables had turned in some way.
The remnants of the Task Force had enough time to mount their retreat while the Amarr waited for news of their champion, Jamyl Sarum. Her ship was damaged, and while she didn't respond at first, her first order soon echoed through the fleet. She demanded a jump to Kor Azor despite her ship being crippled to the point where only navigation was working.
CONCORD came back online as the Amarr start chasing the Minmatar out of their territories. Jamyl had pursued the Minmatar to the Ezzara system but did not jump into Vard following demands from CONCORD that all hostilities cease, instead advising Sundara and the fleet to return to Domain as Chamberlain Karsoth disappears. Neko and his fleet watched the damaged Minmatar remnants start flooding into Heimatar, allowing them uncontested passage.
Legacy of the War
While the rescue had been aborted after years of preparation, many considered the invasion of the Elder War a success in terms of validating the tactical significance of the Minmatar as a resurgent people, and setting the stage for the return of the Elders. The War was to serve as the catalyst for the transformation of the political and tribal relationships that had existed in the Republic and also contributed to the formulation of CONCORD's Emergency Militia War Powers Act, established to maintain some measure of control over the very real threat of future conflicts between the empires.