Time on My Hands Chapter 73 - 531-540 CE: Operation Harmony Phase 3

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Time on My Hands
Chapter 73: 531-540 CE: Operation Harmony Phase 3

In early spring of 531, 3 simultaneous assaults began on the Asian mainland. Army Group Liang and Army Group Wei, 25 armies of 849,000 Raven Raiders each, would invade Liang in the south and the Northern Wei in the north. The remaining 15 armies of 509,400 Raven Raiders of Army Group Korea, would advance against the Korean Goguryeo. The Goguryeo were the largest of the 3 Kingdoms of Korea having expanded north and west and east into Manchuria.

The raven/eagle overwatch had been flying over the border areas for 35 years so all fortifications and strong points were known. All settlements, roads, paths, bridges were mapped. The location of every military unit was known and tracked. They'd also learned that the rainy season ran from June through August with flooding an ever present threat. The Northern Wei Emperor had been overthrown and killed in January 531 so the empire was embroiled with inner turmoil as they struggled over succession.

April 1, 531, the assaults began before dawn. Wolves and tigers accompanied by Raven Raiders trained for silent infiltration slipped across the borders just after midnight. By the time the mounted columns crossed with the dawn, the border guards were dead or captured and the border forts and checkpoints taken. The columns charged forward spreading throughout the territory taking every town, village and hamlet. The surprise was complete at every crossing point.

The Korean Goguryeo were in a mess when the Clan Corvo attacked. King Munjamyeong, the 21st king, had died in 519 after a reign of 28 years. His oldest son Anjang succeeded him but chaos developed over the succession as the process had not been confirmed. The struggle lasted until the early spring of 531 when he was assassinated without an heir. His brother, Anwon, took the throne just as the Clan Corvo attacked. Needless to say the Goguryeo were splintered and disorganized. Against the Goguryeo in the northeast around PD Vladivostok, 5 army groups crossed the Tumen River border then turned south along the coast and 20 miles inland blowing through every village and town annihilating or capturing any warriors who tried to resist. The artillery never unlimbered as the rifles were sufficient to strike fear into the Goguryeo warriors. After a brief deadly resistance most surrendered although quite a few committed suicide rather than loose face. In the center 300 miles of the border, 5 army groups individually followed the roads and paths into the center of Manchuria likewise overwhelming all opposition. In the south where the Goguryeo bordered the Northern Wei along the Liao River, 5 army groups swept south along the eastern bank reaching the coast while units split off to take the Liaodong Penninsula and others hurried to the Yalu River to force a crossing before major resistance could be mustered.

It took 3 days to reach the Liaodong Bay off the Bohai Sea. An army group reached the Yalu River on the 8th day where they met a contingent of Corvus Shipping vessels who provided ferry service and covering artillery fire to drive back all resistance. As the other 4 army groups caught up, they crossed the Yalu River and proceeded south along the west coast and 20 miles inland. The 5 army groups in the center advanced south in the central section of the Korean Peninsula. The capital, Pyongyang, was in disarray. The west wing of the Raven Raider army groups reached the capital 15 days after the attack started. The east wing reached Wonsan the same day. The central wing reached Yangdok 18 days after the start. The Goguryeo were totally crushed.

The Raven Raiders continued south invading the 2 remaining kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula, Baekje and Silla. The remnants of the collapsed Gaya Confederacy in the extreme south retained a quasi independence although they were merely weak city/states. The almost continuous border conflicts between the Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla to their north allowed them tentative peace. The Baekje were a skilled seafaring people on the west coast. Their sea power was destroyed by the Corvus Shipping fleet. Only a handful were sunk while the rest, unable to resist the artillery of Corvus Shipping fleet, were forced to surrender. Alerted, the Baekje had hastily raised their warriors but they proved incapable of stopping the Raven Raiders although in the mountainous terrain they did slow them down. It took 15 days to reach their capital Ungjin {PD Gongju} and another day to take the city. After that organized resistance ended. The same held true for the Silla. It took 18 days for the Raven Raiders to reach their capital of Gyeongju. By 45 days after the invasion began, the Korean Peninsula was subdued. The peasants were complacent and actually welcomed and cooperated with the Clan Corvo when they realized their lives would be changing for the better. The vast majority of the aristocrats and nobles remained haughty and defiant. They quickly found themselves enslaved and shipped off to distant areas where they had no connections and no hope of escape.

The Northern Wei were totally unprepared for the unexpected invasion of Army Group Wei. In the northeast an army swept down the west bank of the Liao River keeping pace with the troops of Army Group Korea on the east bank. Upon reaching Liaodong Bay they swept west and south along the coast. All along the northern border the 15 army groups were spread at strategic locations along the 1000 mile border. Starting at dawn, by sunset all targets within 25 miles of the border had been taken. In the morning, special strike squads swept out taking every supply depot and potential bottleneck. The Chinese forces were so totally unprepared they had no time to muster their huge armies. The situation was so bad the full time warriors had no time to organize thus were easily overwhelmed in a piecemeal manner. What fighting did occur were at best brief lopsided skirmishes lasting 5 minutes or less. The ravens/eagles did their part in taking out horse mounted messengers who tried to get word of the attack out. In 4 days they reached the regional garrison headquarters city of Woye on the Yellow River 105 miles from the border. During that time the city never received notice the Clan Corvo had invaded.

They learned of the invasion when the Raven Raiders stormed the gates at dawn. The guards were taken out by elite stealthy specially trained for silent infiltration, many non fatally. The majority of the city guard were just rising. Those guarding the gates and walls were weary from standing an uneventful guard all night. The Raven Raiders were inside the walls before the alarms could be sounded. The commanding general and his aides were caught unprepared in their quarters. By the time the sun had risen above the walls of the garrison city, the citizens left their homes to see squads of heavily armed Raven Raiders on every street corner.

Fiach had been with the Corvus Fleet but joined the Raven Raiders when they reached Liaodong Bay. As she rode with the Raven Raiders she noted the common Chinese people, the peasants, were meek and submissive, accustomed to their permanent low status with no hope for improvement in their future with their lives dependant upon the demands of their aristocratic overseers; their only concern was surviving. Fiach spoke with the few peasant elders finding they really had no loyalty to their overbearing haughty rulers. Fiach assured them the Clan Corvo would respect them and provide their children with the opportunity to improve their lives. The elite upper classes were publicly stripped of their wealth with most assigned smaller sparsely furnished homes and to jobs requiring physical labor. A few professionals were allowed to stay working in their area of specialization but were monitored and had to work with scribes to record their knowledge. Those who resisted were placed in chains, and marched off to slavery.

The common populace were stunned. While it wasn't unusual for a few of the elite to be killed or imprisoned during power struggles, they'd never witnessed the entirety of the elite taken out. The administrators following on the heels of the Raven Raiders filled the vacuum to keep the local areas functioning as they introduced Clan Corvo practices. The local priests and shamans were allowed to continue as long as they accepted 2 Corvo priests to shadow them to document their faith and rituals as had been done after Phase 2. The peasants were guardedly hopeful as Fiach ordered the governmental food stores opened to provide the working population with adequate food. For many, this was the first time in their lives they had enough food. Most telling was that the estates of the displaced wealthy were not reoccupied by the wealthy of the conquerors. In fact, many elite compounds were turned into churches, temples, schools and hospitals. Others were converted into apartments for use by the populace.

By the 46th day of the campaign the Raven Raiders reached the Yellow River, 16 miles from the capital city of Luoyang {GM 34.669722,112.442222}, 575 miles from the border. Word of the invasion had reached the capital just 3 days before. The sudden lack of communications from the northern regions of their Empire were assumed to be because of another round of revolts. The nominal emperor was reluctant to order general mobilization because that could allow the various factions of the Northern Wei generals to organize their armies. The Empire had devolved into factions because over the last few years they'd been wrangling over installing a new emperor. Once they realized they faced a massive invasion, the differences amongst the generals were so great they couldn't agree on who should command their united forces to face the Raven Raiders. As a result the hastily mobilizing forces did so piecemeal refusing to unite.

No one defended the vital river crossing. Just after dawn at a wide section of the river, an army of Raven Raiders rode their horses across the 1/3 mile wide stream. Rafts and boats were used to build a pontoon bridge to move the artillery and supply wagons across. Once across the divisions fanned out to cut off and surround the capital. Inside the Raven Raider ring were half a dozen recently conscripted Chinese troops ranging in size from one to 4 divisions amounting to 100,000 troops facing off against 33,000 well armed, trained and disciplined Raven Raiders. However, most had just arrived, had few supplies, and while armed, had virtually no training. Even worse there was not enough room inside the city walls to shelter the conscripted forces.

By dawn the next day the Raven Raider artillery was arrayed around the city. After the call to surrender was rejected the artillery opened fire. The cannons were aimed over the heads of the conscripted troops at the city’s gates, walls and watch towers, obliterating the defenses. The conscripted forces were terrified by the thunder of the artillery and the destruction they saw happening to the imposing city walls and gates. The trained warriors, including the generals, had never faced such horrific noise and destruction.

After the barrage paused, Fiach called out to the battered city. "People of Luoyang, I am Fiach Corvo, head of the Clan Corvo. We do not want to enslave you. We have come to free you from the beneath the feet of the elite. We want you to join us. We offer membership in the Clan Corvo to everyone. We will not abuse you but welcome you as brothers and sisters. Look at our warriors. You will see people from different races in the same unit, both male and female. We offer everyone a chance to improve their status. We have no peasants. We have no upper class! Everyone in the Clan Corvo is equal. We do not want to kill any more than have already died. In truth, we wish none had died. There is no need for you to die because your foolish rulers are greedy and stupid. They are too proud to surrender and so put YOUR lives in danger. You owe them nothing! If you have weapons, lay them down and leave the city now. If you have no weapons, please leave the city now to avoid the coming carnage. We ask you raise your hands above your head so we can see you are unarmed. You will be gathered behind our lines to await the outcome of this massacre when I will address you and set you free. If you do not, we will resume our attack and many will die. Please, come join us."

It began slowly as many fearful conscripts dropped their weapons and tentatively raised their hands above their heads. Pathfinders greeted them with smiles as they were funneled through the Raven Raider lines. They were checked to insure they had no weapons then directed to holding areas. Those anxiously watching were amazed those surrendering were treated with respect. Many more conscripts dropped their weapons and joined the exodus as did civilians emerging from the shattered gates and walls. Bouts of violence briefly flared as some commanding officers tried to stop their conscripts from fleeing. The conscripts easily overwhelmed their commanders and fled to the Raven Raiders. Fearful citizens began making their way through the breached walls. Once those remaining inside saw those leaving were welcomed, they joined the exodus which turned into a flood. Those with hands without callouses, the hiding elite, were dispatched to detention points.

When the flow of people slowed, the Raven Raiders began entering the city to root out terrified citizens, the warriors and elite. Gunfire sporadically sounded as those who tried to fight were cut down. The warriors who finally surrendered were clearly in a state of shock. The generals and the high level government officials took their own lives rather than face the loss of face at being defeated. By noon the city fell.

Simultaneously with the attacks along the northern border, attacks by 10 army groups from the western borders pressed east along a 600 mile frontier. They too easily overwhelmed the unprepared Wei linking with the invading northern armies. With the capture of the capital and utter destruction of the central government, the disorganized remnants of the Wei collapsed. By the end of May the Empire of the Northern Wei ceased to exist.

The Liang fared no better. The 25 army groups of Army Group Liang swept east from the Tibetan Plateau and former Tuyuhun Empire along a 500 mile front. Emperor Wu held the throne since 502 and his corrupt ministers and generals had thoroughly oppressed the common people. Just as they had done to the Wei, the Raven Raiders easily overwhelmed their feeble unprepared defenses. The highly mobile Raven Raiders moved too quickly for the Liang to mount any sort of meaningful defenses. Jiankang {GM 32.05837,118.79647} the capital 170 miles northwest of Shanghai, fell the same day the Raven Raiders arrived and surrounded it.

The aristocracy in Liang, Northern Wei, and Korea were rounded up. They were bluntly told their life of privilege was over and they would be treated by the Clan Corvo the same as the commoners they’d oppressed. Those who had been cruel and oppressive were put in chains until they could face trial for their criminal actions. If they demonstrated any kind of resistence they were relocated out of the area. Their Clan Corvo captors were firm but not abusive during the transfer. If the defeated elite cooperated from the start, they were not relocated unless they requested such. All were eased into re-education and job training so they could become productive members of society. Those who resisted or were criminals were enslaved.

By the end of May 531 the first phase of conquest of Far East Asia was completed. The arrogant elite upper classes of the Far East Chinese and Koreans were rounded up, divided into groups of no more than 5 men and shipped off slavery at least 500 miles from their former homes.

The enslaved rulers and societal elite from China and Korea were put to work digging canals, building bridges and roads. They were worked 10 hours a day 6 days a week with 15 minute breaks 2 1/2 hours into the day and another 2 1/2 hours from end of their work day as well as a 30 minute lunch break at midday. If they refused to work they were required to simply stand in place during the working time to receive minimal sustenance of bread and water. The former elite either worked or starved.

During July through the end of the year, the Raven Raiders who had taken the Liang Chinese continued south into Vietnam. The Liang Chinese had controlled maritime trade and about 100 miles inland along the east coast of southeast Asia {present day Vietnam}. The Chinese had long ago conquered the native populations, thoroughly subjugating them. The area was easily rolled into the Clan Corvo, especially with Corvus Shipping owning the seas. At the same time the troops of Army Group Wei spread out to cover all of Korea and Liang.

The Raven Raiders who had taken Korea reorganized. In the spring of 532, Army Group Japan landed 15 army groups on Japan. The Japanese people had yet to unite and were fragmented into numerous rival feudal city/states. While their warriors were brave and proud, they had no means of successfully confronting the Raven Raiders with their hand held guns and artillery not to mention the raven overwatch. The city states were overwhelmed with the arrogant elite swept into slavery off the islands. Army Group Taiwan landed on Taiwan, Hainan, the Okinawan Islands and the islands off the coast of China, easily overwhelming the natives.

Also in 532, the 80 Raven Raider Army Groups recruited from the Americas, Europe and Africa, were ready for the final major military action of Operation Harmony. Forming on the Pakistani-Nepal-Bhutan border, 50 army groups swept south into the Indian Subcontinent. While there were several established kingdoms, the Gupta Empire was by far the largest. Kumaragupta III ascended the throne in 530, but the empire was nearing it's end as the dominant power on the Indian subcontinent. There were at least 6 smaller neighboring empires vying for dominance, each nibbling away at the borders. For years the war-weary Gupta military had jumped from one border conflict to another.

The remaining 30 army groups were divided into groups of 2. One dual army group landed on the island of Sri Lanka off the southeast coast of the subcontinent. On the west coast of the subcontinent along the Arabian Sea, 7 dual army groups seized the trading ports of Dwarka, Surat, Mumbai, Panaji, Karwar, Mangaluru and Kochi where Corvus Shipping had established bases. The remaining 7 dual army groups seized Rameswaram, Mallipattinam, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Nuagarh, Digha, and Chittagong on the Bay of Bengal, the east coast of the subcontinent, where Corvus Shipping had established bases.

The invasion of the 80 Raven Raider Army groups swept through the competing empires crushing them. It took 4 months to sweep across the Indian sub-continent taking out the cities and fortresses. It took another year to eliminate all pockets of organized resistance. There were still remote areas not under Clan Corvo control, but they were subsistence level clan controlled areas with no formal government. They would eventually be subsumed into the Clan Corvo.

In much more gradual but irresistible manner, over the next 7 years the remainder of southeast Asia came under the control of the Clan Corvo. There were numerous small city/states and island/states, many in remote locations consisting of cooperating tribes or clans living under a chief or headman. Whatever their circumstances, they didn’t trust their neighbors enough to unite to face a common foe. As such they had no hope of holding off the Raven Raiders when they arrived. Corvus Shipping worked hand in hand with the Raven Raiders in taking the islands of the East Indies and South and Central Pacific, Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Indonesia, Borneo, Papau, New Guinea, the Phillippines, Tasmania and New Zealand.

By 540, all organized resistence to Operation Harmony ended. Every city, state, and political entity had been overwhelmed by the Clan Corvo. The process of assimilation was well under way. Despite the fighting, the native populations could not even begin to compete against the overwhelming strengths and organization of the Raven Raiders. During each of the 3 Phases of Operation Harmony, the casualties steadily decreased. In fact, Fiach and her experts estimated the world population grew at a steady 1.5% during the course of the 88 years it took to complete Operation Harmony. Thus from the 250,000,000 world population of 461, they estimated the world population had more than tripled growing to 686,000,000, virtually all of that under the auspices of the Clan Corvo.

As each generation of Raven Raiders and Pathfinders matured, they morphed from an elite fighting force to an elite corp of engineers, police and administrators. They responded to natural disasters, kept the peace amongst the civilians and oversaw the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. In addition, the Raven Raider command structure was kept intact. They were used to observe and report on the administrators and priests they encountered who in turn reported on them.

The Raven Raiders had to work hand in hand with the administrators and priests on infrastructure and disaster relief so they had to get along. All 3 groups could report inappropriate actions by the others to the upper echelons via their parallel but separate lines of communications. They also functioned as brakes and spoilers to prevent anyone from becoming an elitist. Fiach was just as adamant about crushing elitism as she was about preventing the creation of peasants. Her insistence that everyone was equal was strictly enforced.

The administrator corps began functioning as Fiach hoped after she made a few tweaks. The main change was that once a person reached age 40, they could finish their current elected or appointed term but could no longer opt for a second term. This had the effect of eliminating greed and corruption which, if left unchecked, often increased with age. This resulted in the upper echelon administrators being mostly between the ages of 30 and 42. As such they were still attached to their idealistic goals but wise enough to compromise. This meant they were closer to their formal education and were aware of and trained to handle rapidly changing current technology and current events. Those who aged out of administrative leadership usually stepped away to allow the younger generation to function without the frowns of more experienced elders looking over their shoulders. Of course, the new administrators were encouraged to seek the advice of retired administrators, but were certainly not bound to take that advice. The retired administrators were allowed to contact the current administrators to offer advice, but could actually only provide advice if asked. In fact, if the retired administrators stuck their noses into affairs without being invited, they could be packed off to distant locations.

Historian archivists did their best to record the acts and rulings of the administrators from a non-biased neutral viewpoint. All reports were peer reviewed to insure impartiality. The historians and peer reviewers could place an addendum to the historical record giving their opinion of the matters but it had to be clearly marked as such. Since the works were publicly available, others were allowed to make addendums from their point of view. This gave a well rounded record of events. In addition, the printing press was well developed so once the records were approved, they were printed as books with the addendums included.

The levels of administrators were local, county, state, region, continental and world. Historians at each level were required to write up and maintain the historical records. The historians at each level were associated with the local schools. The library of every school served as a public library as well as the local historical archives. Copies of all historical records were sent to the administrative levels above the one producing it for inclusion in their school historical archive libraries which were also in schools. Thus copies of all local, county, state, regional and continental historical archives were kept in the Corvo University in Barmaz.

This is not to say there were not glitches or greed in the various administrators. However, anyone with complaints about an administrator could file a complaint. All complaints were investigated and the complainer was briefed on the outcome. This alone nipped most problems in the bud. However it was Fiach who was the most effective deterrent. With her Curse endued ability to sense emotions and even perceive inklings of thoughts, she knew when people were trying to hide something or were outright lying. She was the ultimate living lie detector.

Those who abused their positions out of greed and desire for power were ruthlessly crushed. Such actions were considered high treason to the Clan Corvo. Anyone in the government who used the government for their own benefit or the benefit of family, friends and associates would be committing treason. Accepting ‘gifts' of any kind or asking for a bribe was treason. Offering a bribe or ‘gift' was treason. Using one’s position to exact revenge was treason. Anyone falsely filing complaints against an administrator was guilty of treason. The punishment for treason was harsh, confiscation of all property and that of those who illicitly benefitted as well as enslavement for a minimum of 5 years.

However there were many greedy unethical people so several people a year in each state were punished. Every case of treason was made public throughout the state, naming the guilty and their punishment which served as an ongoing reminder of the seriousness of the crime. The cases were taught as part of the administration/government curriculum in the schools.

Portraits of Fiach were placed in every school and government office to let everyone know she was the Clan Corvo Matriarch. It also allowed people to realize she never aged. Wherever she visited she was easily recognized as she was almost continually traveling the world accompanied by an ever changing entourage of students on grand tours. She did her best to visit each county at least once every 6 years, sometimes only stopping for an hour or so but she made sure to see everyone in a position of power. Any official who failed to meet her without a solid reason was closely investigated.

With the world united and universal education, the various branches of Corvo University became hotbeds of technological invention and experimentation. By the time the fighting of Phase 3 of Operation Harmony ended in 540, electricity was making itself known. Primitive electric lamps were functioning, the telegraph was in operation. Hot air balloons were used. Experiments were being done with helium filled balloons. Primitive internal combustion engines were being developed. Each new development was eagerly shared throughout the Corvo University system with new developments occurring regularly.

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The Beginning has ended

Beoca's picture

The Raven’s Raiders now have the known world under their control. There’s obviously infrastructural development to be done across Southern and Eastern Asia, and in the Pacific, but the question I pose to Fiach (and I suppose to you by extension) is quite simple. What now?

The reporting feels Orwellian at points, but there seems to be a potent investigative capability weeding out the inaccurate claims from the accurate ones. Curious to see what happens when a claim is filed that turns out to be false - but that the filer believed wholeheartedly to be true (i.e. didn’t have the full story, or something of the sort).

I just finished watching Game of Thrones

The similarities between Danerys and Fiach are potent.

So we have an industrial revolution happening whose benefits are going to be spread out rapidly rather than slowly (if at all). So the world will become dependant for survival for dirty, primitive, technologies that damage the environment. Rather than pollution coming from major places it will come from everywhere. Unsustainable needs and unsustainable population. Tha's the pessimistic view anyhow. The optimistic view is that the better educated population will not reproduce as much. While that happens to be evidentially true in this world it presents Corvo with a problem that there is no place for needed immigrants to come from.

Either the pessimistic view or the optimistic lead to severe problems for humanity in general.

And On We Go...

Disappointing to me (as anyone who has been reading my ongoing comments can figure out) that China and India turned out to be more of the same despotic overlords suppressing their subjects that Fiach found everywhere else in the world, with only the larger scale of the operation differing from the Raven Raiders' other conquests. I'm awed by our author's research and certainly can't say that her assumption that power always corrupts -- or that the exceptions aren't frequent enough to matter -- is wrong. But to see the Asian philosophical and ethical systems that have been "civilizing" all their previous invaders dismissed as simply another exotic worldview for the Corvo universities to record for posterity wasn't what I was hoping for.

That said, we now move on to a world that will be industrializing at least a millennium ahead of ours. Fiach is certainly at least a demigod by human standards, but she's not omniscient; she could still make a monumental mistake, or humanity might create something technological that she can't handle. (And there are plenty of things that she can't control at all, from extraterrestrials to planetwide natural disasters -- e.g., radiation from a supernova nearby enough to irradiate and sterilize the solar system -- though none of those occurred over the next 1480 years in our timeline.)

Alternatively, she may discover thar humanity's just not capable of living in permanent peace and harmony, and that she's not strong enough to prevent the system collapsing even with her constant surveillance, or unable to keep that surveillance going indefinitely.

Also, given her own existence, we can't exclude the supernatural: perhaps a "lord of the flies" (Baal-Zebub) capable of controlling any life-form -- from insects to bacteria -- smaller than Fiach can talk with or sufficiently suppress.

Not that I'm really expecting much of that; we seem to be nearing the end of the story and I don't think we're headed for an unhappy ending. (Though a voluntary end to Fiach's life and to the existence of the Curse wouldn't surprise me at all.)