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Chapter 6: VASA


VASA - what could be more inconstant? They interfere where they have no right but remain absent where their authority is surest, they preach balance and self-determination while shackling independents to their pseudo-empire - and I'm never certain whether I should be insulted or amused when I hear them preach free trade. Most amazing is that they legislate their own hypocrisy; they'd be doing the universe a favour if they disposed of pretence and just got on with building their empire in an open and direct fashion.

Iskander, Reflections (HoloRec MCCLXXV bio, case d)

The VASA Sector


Of all the Great Power sectors the VASA Sector in westernmost Iskandria Major most resembles the composition and the spirit of the Free City itself. This is in part due to VASA's preference to maintain local conditions and cultures and not seek to impose its own norms on those it administers, but perhaps the greater truth is that VASA's ideals and those of the cosmopolitan Free City are essentially the same: economic growth, increased trade, and security. Also, VASA's corporate elements are not nearly so integrated into Iskandrian society as those of the Viridians, and thus many of the Free City's best and most successful companies chose the VASA Sector when seeking to expand their interests or invest their capital - VASA's monopoly on tariffs and trade only further enhances their appeal.

Thus the sprawling high-tech manufacturing and commercial Precincts under VASA aegis are amongst the richest and most dynamic on Iskandria - the polar opposite of the slums and shanties of the Junker east coast. The 'Outer City' of the VASA Sector, Precincts 2 and 3, is nearly indistinguishable from the urban metropolis across the VASA border in the Free City, save perhaps for the increased security and presence of VASA's para-military police alongside the city's own domestic patrols. Outward appearances mimic internal conditions as well, the VASA Sector's Outer City being essentially governed by the same laws and regulations as the Free City itself. Unfortunately, the design of the Outer City's structures meant that it was just as vulnerable to Koralon spore infestation as the other sectors of Iskandria, and coraline infection has taken a devastating toll of the city's inhabitants.

Things change as one crosses into the Inner City Precincts for it is home to large segments of transplanted Vacillian natives and other close VASA affiliates, who prefer life behind the wall to the chaos of the Outer City. Culturally, life in the Inner City closely resembles that of Vacillus, and over the years the architecture itself has taken on the traditional domed Vacillian style. Much of VASA's military and administrative personnel on Iskandria live in the Inner City, and its retaining walls are manned by patrols of native Suppressors. Crucial industries are also located behind the wall, and are always monitored by government- sponsored firms. Taken as a whole the effect as one crosses from the Outer to the Inner City can be dramatic, and it is almost as if the chill of Vacillus lingers in the air above the bulbous towers and soaring aerials of the Inner City.

In addition to its manufacturing and commercial muscle, the VASA Sector boasts two crucial structures - vital both strategically and economically. First is the massive spaceport on Iskandria Major's north shore. Port Iskander, in the Nikifor Precinct, was once the staging area for Iskander's war fleet, but VASA has greatly expanded and modernized it to include endless berths for civilian liners and commercial freight, on- site repair and modification facilities, an extensive construction yard, and a separate military port almost as large as the civilian. However, with the coming of the Koralon much of this crucial possession has been overrun, and VASA's greatest concern in the opening phases of the Iskandrian War was the liberation of Port Iskander.

Another of the Tyrant's legacies is the towering Phaeros Subspace Beacon. Located on a strip of land that extends far northward into the Nephrite Ocean, Precinct 12. The beacon utilizes the massive n-space pull of Helios to broadcast a powerful signal that can reach almost every planet in human space. This colossal structure is the tallest building on the planet, so enormous that the upper two-thirds of it had to be constructed in orbit before being lowered in place. It's fantastic height, as well as the sky-piercing, ghostly beam that originates from the tower's crown, ensure that the Phaeros is visible well into the interior of Iskandria Major. Despite its vulnerable position the Phaeros has not been a target of direct Koralon attack, though it remains under heavy VASA guard.

VASA Peacekeepers


Furthermore the authority for the execution and enforcement of the aforementioned rights and guarantees is the province of the Viridian Aeronautics and Space Administration; this body to have sole executive and prosecutorial power and discretional latitude in the implementation of said rights and guarantees...

The Treaty of Vacillus, Article 12, Clause 1

VASA had found itself in a very difficult position following the Syntha and Koralon invasions, and in the opening phases of the Iskandrian War it limited its response to a mixture of diplomatic posturing and coercive use of 'irregular elements,' in other words the Triad criminal underworld, in an attempt to restore order and develop some semblance of a concerted front amongst the Tripartite Powers. It had not met with much success, finding that no one policy seemed able to deal with the many contentious factions, great and small, that comprise the chaotic maelstrom of players in the Iskandrian War.

Firstly, the difficulties over following the letter of the Partition Treaty as well as the general provisions of the Tripartite Alliance have effectively stayed VASA's hand on more than one occasion. The basic conflict is between the need to preserve the alliance in the face of alien aggression while at the same time dealing with an unprovoked attack from one of the Tripartite's members. VASA forces on Kyklops must abide by the concerns of the intergalactic community and the administrators of Vacillus, who find themselves at the head of a coalition of the Tripartite Powers (though the Syntha are glaringly absent) in a galaxy-wide war against the Koralon, and therefore Iskandrian troops cannot make an overt move to war despite the overwhelming provocation. Thus the VASA garrison was trapped in more ways than one, their hands tied from above and their local actions governed by the necessity to maintain a fiction of alliance that has been either ignored or circumvented by the other powers in the city. In the face of such difficulties VASA had taken half- measures to deal with both the alien and human intervention and has, for the most part, failed at both.

It is no secret that VASA initially sought to operate through the Triad gangs, but it became increasingly clear that the relationship was a lopsided one at best. While the Triads have fed VASA spies much useful information in addition to checking the spread of the Syntha, they have also manipulated VASA patronage to secure concessions in exchange for phoney services and false intelligence reports, as well as using VASA as part of the intra-clan manoeuvrings that are becoming increasingly endemic as the Triads spill out onto the streets. In short, the gangs have grown stronger and VASA's aims have met with only limited success, all at the expense of VASA prestige and legitimacy in the eyes of the Great Powers, especially Viridia, as well as the Iskandrians themselves.

To further compound the situation VASA regular forces have been committed to the retaking Port Iskander located on a VASA administered island to the west of Iskandria Major. Greatly outnumbered, lacking even the most basic conventional aerial and naval forces with which to prosecute such a venture (generally VASA utilizes orbital insertion for such operations, but naturally cannot in the present crisis) VASA had settled down for long range bombardment and periodic small scale probes to test the Koralon position in the port. Such reconnaissance in force does take advantage of VASA's excellent core of elite strike units, such mobile troops have reportedly exacted a heavy toll on the invader's forces but losses have been intolerable, for the Koralon seemingly posses unlimited reserves beneath the waves.

Fast attack units, such as the elite Red Guard and Black Legion, combine with the more flexible Suppressors to form most VASA garrisons, and Iskandria is no exception. And though VASA forces are stretched thin just to defend their own territory this is perhaps less of a weakness for them as it would be for other armies, for VASA is accustomed to working in such conditions and trains and equips its forces to deal with an assumed numerical inferiority. Though extremely powerful such troops depend on mobility for success, and as VASA ramps up military production to address these short comings, and recruits militia from among the populace, the elite core of their armies is better able to concentrate in decisive numbers. It was only a matter of time before VASA could commit to the conflict in the neutral zone once Vacillus gave the order, though if this means they intend to wholly abandon their position in regards to the Partition Treaty is anyone's guess.

In fact, it may be that VASA had already taken steps to intervene directly in the Iskandrian conflict in its initial stages if the rumours are to be believed. Reports of grav-winged strike teams or mobile squads of heavily armed shock police had been attributed to everything but VASA - to local security forces, Triad secret weapons, and mercenary companies. But the fact remains that, taken as a whole, such scattered actions by 'unknown' groups paint a remarkably consistent program of military intervention in Iskandria Major - one clearly of strategic value to VASA alone. If such rumours are to be believed than it must mean that someone had decided the diplomatic game that characterized the beginning of the Iskandrian War could not preserve the VASA stake in the future of the planet, and that the idea that a war could somehow be adverted, when it had already penetrated to all sectors of the city, was foolhardy, even suicidal.

VASA at War


A commander must know two things; when to move, and when to wait - all else is irrelevant. The art of war is at one time as simple, and as complex, as the interplay of action and inaction.

Vant Skultizr, VASA Force Commander, Skultizr's Enforcers

VASA's apparent inability and reluctance to engage in the battle for the Free City in the opening phases of the Iskandrian War meant that it forfeited much of the positional advantages an early intervention may have afforded it. However, the size and nature of its forces prohibited little more than the security and internal defensive actions it engaged in, and VASA perhaps wisely relinquished its involvement in the Free City to concentrate on protecting its key assets of the Phaeros and Port Iskander, and the cleansing of its own Outer City. Its reluctance to violate the Partition Treaty is also proving to be of inestimable value in its coordination of Tripartite forces in system.

But this is not to say VASA has not intervened in the Free City or even that it has not locked horns with its erstwhile allies in the neutral zone, only that, thus far, it has shown singular skill in parleying these incidents in its favour - or else so convincingly denying its involvement that even the cynical Plutocrats of the Junker Sector find themselves believing in VASA sincerity. This mix of diplomacy and secret intervention of VASA forces, while relying on Triad gangs for intelligence and direct action, has enabled VASA to focus on domestic security and the maintenance of its own legitimacy as the champion of the Tripartite Peace. Thus, VASA was uniquely situated to take advantage of the reinforcements landed during Operation Arkadian Dawn to greatly increase its planetside authority and reach.

Immediately upon landing reinforcements VASA launched a blitz attack on Port Iskander, overwhelming the hybrid mobs they encountered there with rapidly assaulting Black Legion and Red Guard units. VASA quickly reinforced this opening before the Koralon could launch a sea-borne counteroffensive, manoeuvring a large field army to the area in preparation for an all-out assault on the Koralon positions. Thus far VASA has concentrated its efforts on liberating the military harbour of Port Iskander, and it is thought much of the weaponry and material located here has been ignored by the aliens - if so it could prove an invaluable acquisition in the coming conflict.

But VASA is no longer limiting itself merely to matters of internal security, having stepped-up its involvement, both open and covert, in the neutral zone. Citing concerns of planetwide security they have occupied every sector that borders their own, even going so far to insist the Viridian forces in these sectors (in particular Vomeen Bal) vacate them at once. VASA has also shown an interest in the areas to the far south of its holdings, the Greyburn Sector in particular, a wealthy region perhaps the least affected - being the furthest away - by coraline spore infection and Syntha aggression. Already VASA advisors have landed in Greyburn and set up a new municipal government and security apparatus, and seem to be preparing the region for further orbital troop insertions.

In addition to these essentially defensive manoeuvres VASA has publicly involved itself with the Viridian occupation of the Acreus Sector, and has dispatched a large force to observe and assist the IDF with its war against the Koralon. Another mobile force has launched a war against the Syntha in the Colchis Sector, the great southern peninsula upon which Iskander's Acropolis is situated, and this field army consists not only of large numbers of off-world Suppressor brigades but whole squadrons of the never-before-seen CLAU battlesuits. This attack coincides with VASA's increasingly vocal campaign against Syntha aggression, and is believed to mark a new tenor in VASA diplomacy toward the Syntha. Indeed, it may spell the end of the Tripartite Alliance itself.

Furthermore, rumours of VASA involvement in numerous incidents around Iskandria are rife, and it is believed that they are taking fullest advantage of the mobility offered them by their new mastery of the skies above the planet. The massive detonation of the Junker owned refinery in the Skrold District, the felling of the Syntha-held Mornac Robcerc Farspanner bridge, and the sabotage of an underground Triad arms manufactory in the New Karnus Sector have all been linked to VASA, though in the absence of proof and in the face of repeated denials nothing can be said for sure. However, many believe that these incidents taken as a whole mark a new phase of VASA involvement on the planet, one characterized by aggressive, and increasingly blatant, unilateral intervention. It may be that, in their reluctance or inability to work with VASA, the other powers of the Tripartite Alliance have turned this traditional proponent of soft power and diplomacy into something increasingly resembling a conquering army.

  • VASA Landscape 1
  • VASA Landscape 2
  • VASA Landscape 3