1742: The Kryst Offensive and the Miracle of Skar
Interpreting the silence along the Tok/Lower Barro front as a sign of weakness, the forces of Kryst launch a surprise offensive along the Svarld with the intention of bringing the region within their sphere of influence. An old Kryst regency claim was used as an excuse for the war, though the pretext was transparent even by Quar standards.
Kryst is not as populous as either Tok or Barro, but many of its troops were veterans, particularly its widely feared Mountaineer Brigades. The Kryst offensive was classical Quar doctrine—investing a number of city-states by cutting off their roads, then conducting a classical siege operation while simultaneously opening negotiations.
But while diplomats of Kryst wrangled in the Tokish capital of Bul Maren, Alykinder in Skar was on the front lines and unwilling to negotiate. Trading space for time, and destroying roads and blocking passes behind him, Alykinder drew back towards Skar. He recalled the entire Airmobile Corps from their postings throughout the Svarld, staging them in the yards of Skar, but rotating them through so that the yards were supporting a fleet about three times as large as the docks’ capacity.
The prevailing winds of that region blow from Kryst, except for a few weeks out of the year, when a seasonal counter wind blows. Alykinder was waiting for his wind.
The Kryst forces were impressed with the ease by which they could extend their siege perimeter, and considered the campaign off to a resounding start. The disruptions to the roads were annoying, but not impassible obstacles, and Alykinder provided at least the illusion of resistance, until Kryst’s forces were stretched to the very limit of their supply trains.
Then the seasonal counter winds winds began. The entire Airmoble Corps blasted forth from Skar in force. The operation was a masterstroke of meticulous timing and eager troops led by brilliant operations officers. Simultaneous drops at the weak rear areas of the siege line resulted in mass panic, with some Airmobile forces conducting operations well within Kryst itself. The Kryst Army was shattered before it could even mount an effective resistance. Hundreds of POWs were scooped up, as units on the march suddenly found themselves assaulted on all sides by soldiers who appeared as if from thin air.
In Bul Maren, the negotiators of Kryst immediately sued for peace. The ensuing peace negotiations were among the most sweeping seen on Quar in centuries, significantly expanding the areas that Tok controlled. This time, there was no nominal transfer of one or two key locations—Alykinder had seen that Tok’s boundaries now include the entire area of operations for the Airmoble Corps (the Lower Barro cities were just as happy to see their relations formalized) as well as two or three key locations inside Kryst—not least of which was a brand new helium processing facility.
Alykinder’s success was due to three factors—small squad tactics with NCOs given a wide degree of autonomy, wireless communications (conducted in code), and improvements in airship construction, most visible in the ships of the Long Walker class. But the lessons of war were lost on the rest of the Quar nations. The victory was seen as a fluke—due to some hitherto unforeseen problem with Kryst’s military, rather than a major shift in tactics. Other military theoreticians managed to convince themselves that the old formula works—after all, didn’t most of the fighting happen near siege areas? Ergo, sieges are still the defining feature of warfare. Alykinder emerged from the shadow of Chot, as the latter retired to his country estate and his memoirs. Alykinder was swept into political power in the North by popular acclaim. The ascendancy of Alykinder was just beginning.
It is a sign of Alykinder’s regard that the first public printing of “Principles” emerged at this time, bringing the young soldier’s words to the world at large.