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The Orion War

 

According to Orion propaganda, the Nine Worlds acted in reckless haste and without the careful planning that would have meant success. In fact, however, it was the Orions who panicked and precipitated their own climatic crisis. The delegates made no real secret of their deliberations on Rigel IV; they had guards aplenty and their ships were in orbit. As per protocol, they first informed the Rigellians, whose guests they were, of their agreement. No one knows who acted first-a captain of the guard hastily ordering the meeting chambers sealed, an overzealous Trade Hall scion attempting a coup, even a technician shutting down the communication system-and it did not matter. As soon as the Nine Worlds delegates announced their resolution, their links to the outside world were broken. Within minutes, Orion troops had seized the orbiting ships and prevented them from sending any warning. Orion legend has made the opening of the rebellion the fruition of centuries of plotting, but in reality it was all quite spontaneous. Every Orion on Rigel IV who was close to the Conference understood that the time had come to act-and they acted as if they had rehearsed every move.

Eventually, an Orion delegation, under the leadership of the then-unknown Nallin Oplate presented the Nine Worlds diplomats with a bold counter-ultimatum; restore Orion rights and allow the peaceful independence of all Orions, or face carnage and destruction on every Nine Worlds planet until the Orions had their way. As the Conference was technically still in session, the delegates pleaded for time to make a reply, which Nallin granted.

Nallin anticipated that the delegates would try to inform the Nine Worlds of the rebellion. With a large contingent of Trade Hall rhadamanen, he journeyed to Botchok and informed the Orion governments there of the revolt. Within a month, every Orion government seized power from their alien overseers and imprisoned them. Warfare on Botchok finally ended, and for the first time, Orion troops prepared for battle in defense of the Orion homeworld. Nallin's diplomatic ability provided the impetus for the creation of the Botchok Planetary Congress. Contrary to legend, he was not the only one to send out the Recall of the Pirates. Rigel had no other space forces, and many Orions realized that a war for survival was imminent.

There may have been a leak in communications or suspicion at the silence from the Rigel Conference. Regardless, a Nine Worlds battlefleet arrived at Rigel before half the Orion pirate fleet arrived, and the deceit was over. although the Rigellians promptly ordered the fleet to leave or face permanent revocation of trading rights, the fleet ignored them and closed on Botchok. In the opening battle of what would become the Orion War, Nallin Oplate himself commanded a ship-not a true warship, but an armed freighter, and he was not in command of the entire fleet. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Orions were shot to pieces. Though the continued to close ranks, they were forced to retreat, still firing, all the way back to the atmosphere of Botchok, in full view of half the people on the planet. To retreat further was impossible, and the Orion fleet would have been destroyed save for the miraculous appearance of Captains Caruch the Blessed and Lhai the Victorious. Possessing 20 ships each, Captains Caruch and Lhai arrived behind the Nine Worlds' fleet undetected, and opened fire on the unscreened sterns of the largest warships, including the Nine Worlds' flagship, destroying most and pinning the remainder between the divided Orion forces. Only a handful of Nine Worlds' ships escaped to tell the tale.

The Orions had no closer call than this, though everywhere they faced desperate odds. The Recall took two years to complete, and the Orion War was fought initially with one-seventh the ships the Nine Worlds could muster. However, Nallin had spoken truly; Orions everywhere risked and lost their lives sabotaging the enemy's war effort. Rebellion swept the alliance's planets, occupying the greater part of the Nine Worlds ground forces-which did not help the space situation. Never able to force battle on their own terms, the Nine Worlds had to be content with innumerable raids and the attrition exacted by their fleets.

The signatory-successors to the Treaty of Kammzdast refused to surrender their claims and privileges easily, even with Orion pressure against them. What was a little war against the loss of Orion labor? At least war might bring the Orions to heel. Therefore, the war dragged on for 50 long years. Then, after the Battle of Rhinate devastated the largest remaining Nine Worlds' warfleet, the alliance sued for terms.

Simultaneously with the ceasefire, Nallin the Unconquerable, who had never lost a fight (though he had been in only one) issued the famous Declaration of Nallin, which proclaimed Botchok a free world, unbound by Kammzdast and unbeholden to any other peoples, and Orions everywhere free citizens, wards of the Botchok Planetary Congress and entitled to its protections wherever they may go. Enemies to no one, they wished only to resume, on a fair-trading basis, those relations that existed before the war. However, there remained much rebuilding before the Orions were as well off as they once were.

Nallin remained President of the BPC for only a few years before retiring to a world at the edge of the Outer Dark (those regions from which no ship had ever come to Rigel, at the edge of settled Orion space). He did not die in space or combat, but lived out his days establishing a new Orion Colony-an ambition of his postponed by 50 years of circumstance. No other Orion is so revered as teh Unconquerable, and he is rightly called the Father of the Orions.