Mankind's empire in a microcosm, Kyklops, a small world of great importance, a world divided by treaties and dominated by the four great powers of the Tripartite Confederacy, a world that mirrors humanity's fractious galactic rivalry in its shielded compounds and perimeter walls, its air of guarded paranoia. To this divided world the Koralon came in sudden, irresistible force. Four other key systems suffered this same fate as the great Koralon Incursion rocked the vast empire of man to its core, and though mankind was able to reclaim its lost worlds at great cost it seems as if the delicate peace that existed between the great powers is about to be swept away in the wake of the alien onslaught. In no other place is this more clear than on Kyklops for, while the Koralon entrench themselves in the warm waters of that world's shallow seas, man fights man in the streets of the great metropolis of lskandria. The double island-continent of lskandria is completely urbanized, a vast landscape of interconnected cities dominated by the enclaves of the four great powers. Cut off from the homeworlds by the remnants of the Koralon fleet and crippled by the devastating orbital barrage of the initial alien attack, the great powers raise makeshift armies to supplement their paltry defenses and scramble for advantage in the opening moves of what may prove to be humanity's endgame.
As the Gateworlds fell Prime said nothing, as a plague of fear ripped through human space the Syntha quietly maneuvered their fleets and reinforced their defenses, remaining aloof even as the other powers combined to drive back the Koralon. The Syntha had little invested in the Gateworlds, the heavily populated open-air worlds were of little interest to artificial minds grown in hard vacuum. However, Kyklops was a world apart, strategically vital and jointly held by all of the great powers, in a system which dominated the transport and communication of an entire sector of human space, if not the galaxy itself. The Syntha sealed their section of the great island City of lskandria the moment the Koralon arrived in the Arkadian System, shutting the great blast doors of their termite cities and refusing all contact with the frantically mobilizing forces of the other powers. lskandria's southern sector had gone dark, the Syntha silent, Prime itself offering no word of explanation for its actions while the rest of mankind launched a desperate counterattack. Twenty-one days of silence followed, and on the twenty-second day the great doors rolled back and an army emerged from the termite cities, a cold, methodical force of machines and men that swiftly occupied strategic points throughout lskandria's neutral zone, including the Acropolis, seat of Iskandrian government. indiscriminately slaughtering civilians and the personnel of its Tripartite allies, wreaking destruction with the dispassionate efficiency of a surgeon, Prime had finally spoken.
No organization has had more experience with large-scale planetary emergencies than VASA, accustomed to being outnumbered VASA civil and military authorities quickly stepped up their mobilization programs in the early days of the Koralon attack. The strange circumstances of the Kyklops incursion, the alien's seeming disregard for the Iskandrian mainland, had provided VASA with the time it needed to lock down its own section of the city and restore a kind of order to the commercial sector, though VASA is still embroiled in a running battle to save lskandria's space port from the continual assaults by the alien invaders.
However, VASA authorities were ill prepared for the sudden attack by their erstwhile allies the Syntha, and now find themselves fighting a difficult holding action in the neutral sectors of the city. VASA is very reluctant to use their few remaining elite soldiers in any battle outside of their sector, for to do so would be to commit to a course of action that might lead irrevocably to war with the Syntha, and have instead formalized a partnership with the nefarious Triad gangs that dominate the Iskandrian underworld. This unprecedented act in the long history of VASA-Triad relations, a history of conflict and cooperation, is a sure sign of VASA's desperate position. lt is hoped by harnessing the extensive criminal network of the Triads VASA can gain the information and, perhaps ultimately more important in an increasingly dangerous situation, the muscle it needs to maintain the dictates of the Tripartite Peace on lskandria.
The sprawling, ramshackle eastern sector of lskandria is a convoluted mass of low-tech factories and boxlike hab-units tumbling shoreward like scree from heavily fortified heights. Beneath the brown haze that lies thickly over this squalid quarter a million furnace-lights simmer, and the strobing, electric pulse of the pleasure quarters beckon with the promise of every illicit thrill. Looming above all, a cyclopean monument to another age, the Great Arena spirals in the smog. For tens of millions of labouring poor it is their temple, their centre, and the bloody games at its heart are the passion of all who call themselves Junker.
Contact with the open societies of lskandria has proven immensely stimulating to the Junker inhabitants of Kyklops, and the enormous pleasure district they have constructed to feed the city's baser desires has been extremely profitable. The ace fighters of the Arena's gladiatorial contests are the private property of important citizens, and the fighting stables that have grown in the shadow of the great arena produce combatants of extreme skill. Following the Syntha's betrayal of the Iskandrian Charter, and in light of VASA's involvement with the City's criminal gangs, the Junker's have decided to outfit and dispatch small units of gladiators to the neutral zone to check their rivals expansion. Thus far the gladiators have proven to be everything a convict soldier is not: skilled, motivated, and, perhaps best of all, not officially linked to the state.
Viridian interests in Kyklops were never military, and over the years the few garrison soldiers assigned to the world have been transferred for duty to more active theatres. The Koralon Incursion caught the prosperous inhabitants of the Viridian sector of lskandria completely unprepared, and the few remaining regular soldiers quickly found themselves faced with the prospect of maintaining law and provided defense for not only millions of Viridian citizens in their own quarter, but millions more pouring in from the neutral zone after the sudden and brutal Syntha assault.
The solar cities of the Viridian quarter quickly began to produce war material, and all able-bodied men and women were enlisted for service. Many fulfill civil patrol duties, but the most promising have been enrolled in a new planetary defense force based around a small core of professional VAF soldiers and augmented by a few highly specialized Sniper Companies. The new Colonial Marines are mostly aquatic horticulture workers and techs, but all manner of civilian specialists have found their way into the service, their lack of training made up for in part by their excellent equipment and the dedication and competence of their officers. The new force is ostensibly a defensive one, but already many in the neutral zone have felt the wrath of the Viridian Sniper teams, masters of urban infiltration.
VASA has had a long history of contact with the Triads, an intergalactic criminal organization patterned in part on VASA's own zaibatsu, powerful state-sponsored trading houses, and many Triad clans can directly trace their origins to one or more of the less than scrupulous zaibatsu branches. Triads are organized along familial lines, and maintain strict hierarchical discipline as part of their code of honour, traits adopted from the ancient traditions of VASA's dominant cultural contributor, the Viridian region of Nihon. VASA has often cooperated with the Triads to protect its own trading rights or to gain leverage in a key region, but never before have they been employed in actual military Operations as on lskandria.
The other Great Powers can only speculate as to how long the Syntha had planned their doublecross, what is known is that a host of new military hardware has been deployed against lskandria's other chartered powers. New models of Androsynth as well as different classes of Biomech have already made their appearance in the neutral zone, models apparently designed for the tight confines of urban warfare. While the other powers scramble to increase their ranks in the wake of the unexpected onslaught of the Koralon, it seems the Syntha have long prepared to capitalize on such instability. One can only speculate as to the never before seen innovations the Syntha have yet to reveal.
Viridians have always placed a great reliance on the basic infantry soldier, the Colonial Marine, and their pattern of recruitment in response to the Koralon Incursion has adhered to this policy. Though many new recruits lack the intensive training of the professional army corps, Viridian authorities on Kyklops have taken the extra step of providing their raw recruits with the absolute best in equipment and weaponry. lt is hoped that this new stress on material superiority will offset the latest wave of inexperienced and hastily trained draftees. These new recruits have bolstered the 5th and 7th Venom Skull Marine Battalions on lskandria.
Always quick to recognize effectiveness in arms, the Junkers have enrolled the hardened fighters of their Gladiator schools into their expanding military machine on Kyklops. Accustomed to small scale combat, alert and aggressive, Gladiators are ideal combatants for the close-quarters melee of the chaotic urban zones. Technically the private property of a wealthy Junker upper class, prize Gladiators enjoy a higher standard of living and personal comfort than the vast majority of citizens of the Junker quarter. Whatever incentives the Junker's have offered them to participate in this new war, be it riches, freedom, or status, none can compare to the lust for battle in the heart of every Gladiator.
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