Bite-sized Backstory 33: The Long Siege of Pallas (Destiny)
Since before the Reef Wars, the Awoken could only ever tell that the Eliksni were communicating, but what exactly the aliens were saying to one another had always been lost in the pulsed static or rapid beeps and tones of encryption. It seems likely that the Awoken’s communications were almost certainly just as unreadable to the Eliksni, but then it was the Eliksni who were lashing out at Awoken colonies and murdering entire Awoken populations. For months or perhaps even years, the Awoken had been on the defensive. All they could really do was react, to Skolas’ next aggression.
Finally, though, after the attack on Amethyst, Prince Uldren and his Crows managed to break the House of Wolves’ encryption. Now, they could listen in on Skolas and his lieutenants and they strike back at his forces. The first of the Reef’s counter attacks came against Drevis, who if you’ll remembered, committed major atrocities on Amethyst.
Sometimes we think of space navigation as a solved thing. Even in our modern, real life age we can land rovers on Mars or send probes to take spectacular pictures of the planet Pluto. But really, we’re so good at those things because we have had years and decades to observe and perfect orbital models. Just recently a big-ish asteroid passed near Earth and the news stories were saying that there was a chances it would hit us when its orbit brought it back around in a few decades time. But, with only one short observation, doing the calculations to tell us for sure was apparently impossible. Even with our fancy technology, we’ll have to wait for the asteroid to pass us by once or maybe twice more before we’ll have any idea if it will hit us.
That’s how it must have been for Drevis’ crew and Pilot Servitors for the asteroid 324 Bamberga. Orbiting a little beyond Mars, Bamberga is roughly 230km wide, and the Eliksni, in their haste harass and attack the Reef, miscalculated its orbit. The Awoken however, who had likely been observing and charting Bamberga’s movements for multiple hundreds of years, knew exactly where it would be, and used that knowledge to drive Drevis into a trap.
We don’t have any account of exactly how Armada Paladin Imogen Rife’s forces drove Drevis’ ketch into the path of Bamberga. I’d like to imagine it was a running series of quick clashes, picket actions, and larger feints that kept Drevis on the run until Bamberga ran into her. Drevis’ ketch was utterly destroyed in the collision, and both she and her most prized servitor, Kaliks-4, were captured.
After the Reef’s defeats and humiliations at Amethyst and Iris, this must have seemed quite the victory, but remember, the Kaliks line of servitors were very important to the House of Wolves. So, instead of a uneventful voyage back to Vesta, where Paladin Rife would have presented Drevis to her Queen, the Awoken fleet was instead attacked by Pirsis, one of Skolas’ few top remaining lieutenants. Pirsis cornered Rife’s forces at the large asteroid of 2 Pallas and set up a siege.
2 Pallas is the third largest asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter, and is only a little smaller than Vesta, the asteroid that the bulk of the Reef is built around. At roughly 550km across, Pallas is almost twice as big as Bamberga, and is home to a sizable population of Awoken.
Pirsis didn’t just trap Paladin Rife at Pallas, she amassed a fleet of what must have been hundred of Eliksni ships, enough ships to lay siege to Pallas and cut it off from the rest of the Reef not just for weeks or months, but for years! The House of Wolves clearly had the superior position and overwhelming firepower, but they refused to press their advantage, because doing so would have meant the certain death of Drevis and destruction of Kaliks-4.
The last time the Wolves had amassed such a huge force, the Awoken had smashed it with Mara Sov and her Harbingers leading the way. But this time, that wasn’t so easy. With the Wolves besieging a major population center, the use of Harbingers would have lead to a massive number of deaths on both sides! In desperation, Mara Sov sent Armada Paladins Abra Zire and Kamala Rior to search for Skolas among the Hildian Asteroids, but they were unsuccessful in their missions due to the cleverness of Skolas’ chief tactician, Beltrik, the Veiled.
The siege of Pallas finally began to crumble when a Dreg named Weksis the Meek launched an unsanctioned attack on the Athens Hull, which I’m guessing is the name of Imogen Rife’s flagship. Weksis and his small group of followers were able to blast their way into the Athens Hull in an attempt to rescue Drevis and Kaliks-4 from imprisonment, but the timely intervention of Commander Hallam Fen stopped them in their tracks and saw the would be rescuers imprisoned beside those they had been trying to rescue.
Unfortunately, this attack spurred Pirsis, who by now had been dubbed “Pallas-Bane”, to launch a more major attack of her own. Her larger, more able strike team fought their way through the breach that Weksis had opened and managed to free Kaliks-4. We’re told that Pirsis might have gotten away with the important Prime Servitor, but she instead tried to free Drevis as well. This lead to a face to face clash between the Awoken and Eliksni leaders in charge of their respective sides of the siege.
Perhaps Pirsis and Paladin Imogen Rife had seen each other during negotiations over the previous few years, but they probably never met in person. Now though,they fought one another gun vs gun and blade vs blade! Paladin Rife was forced to destroy Kaliks-4 in order to prevent its escape, but she, in turn, was cut down in battle by Pirsis!
Ultimately, Pirsis attack was a second failure, but her siege of Pallas might have continued if not for the efforts and quick thinking of Awoken Commander Hallam Fen. He somehow managed to get through what must have been intense jamming from Pirsis’ fleet and, with quick thinking, coordinated with the Queen’s Crows and Techeuns to create an enormous illusion of approaching Harbingers. Pirsis’ forces went mad. They still remembered the battle that took place at Ceres before the Scatter. Remembered how their ships had been disabled or destroyed by the thousands by the intense power of the Queen’s Harbingers. And so, they broke ranks and fled in complete disarray.
In the confusion that followed Commander Fen’s bluff, he along with Paladins Leona Bryl and Kamala Rior pounced on the Wolves. They managed to force most of them to retreat, and even more importantly, they managed to capture Pirsis, Pallas-Bane! In return for his service and innovative thinking, Queen Mara Sov allowed Hallam Fen to succeed his mentor, the late Imogen Rife, in the role of one of the Reef’s four Armada Paladins.
For those who are curious, the Reef’s forces are headed by seven Royal Paladins:
Royal Armada Paladins:
- Abra Zire
- Kamala Rior
- Leona Bryl
- Previously Imogen Rife, now replaced by Hallam Fen
Royal Army Paladins:
- Pavel Nolg
- Devi Cassl
Royal Awoken Guard Paladin:
- Yasmin Eld
Following the failure of the long siege at Pallas, Skolas’ forces were again forced to move into the open in an effort to seek a new advantage over the Reef. The end of the siege of Pallas would come to mark the beginning of the end of the Reef Wars. In the few remaining battles, the Awoken would demonstrate that they had learned well from their previous clashes with the Eliksni, and before long Skolas himself would be betrayed!