Stand of the Imperial Guard
The Stand of the Imperial Guard or Ramaj's Last Stand was fought in ICY 959 during the Battle of Lakfakalle. This delaying action served to buy the Commander-in-Chief of Operation Phoenix, Imperial Admiral Abriel Dusanyu a chance to escape with most of the Lakfakalle garrison and civilians. Some details are unknown; however, the success of the delay were felt immediately by the Empire at the cost of the elite Imperial Guard and three sovereigns of the the Abh Empire including Empress Abriel Ramaj.
Shortly after the start of the war in ICY 952, the Battle of Skaresh had formed the early high-water mark for the then Three Nations Alliance against the Empire's Laburec. This position had been the closest which the Alliance tested and attempted to assault Lakfakalle proper. The information known to both sides that an engagement for system Abriel and the capital would be a bloody fight against some of the toughest units the Laburec had to offer, including the Imperial Guard Fleet.
Knowing this, the Alliance planned a campaign politically and militarily to attempt to mobilize Hania potentially and with or without Hania's help assault Lakfakalle in a surprise attack improved upon since Skaresh. Luckily, the government or military of Hania complied and helped form the now Four Nations Alliance to more effectively stage the operation
Empress Abriel Ramaj had only hours to react after she had lost contact with the headquarters of Operation Snow Crystal currently commanded by Admiral Kotoponi Razelia. Virtually the entire combined arms of Snow Crystal ended up trapped in Kryb or assaulted at Skiil. She activated the emergency Operation Phoenix with the hope of preserving as much military force as possible. A secondary objective included protecting civilians, property, and the cultural heritage of the Empire for as long as possible.
The lead elements and reserves of system Abriel did not last long against the concentrated assault of over 100 partial squadrons. The Alliance had sprung the trap and prevented many veteran and regular Laburec units from informing or defending Lakfakalle proper. As the security elements of Lakfakalle were routed, Abriel Ramaj committed her personal guard into the fight to draw out the battle so that way Imperial Admiral, Prince Abriel Dusanyu may succeed in his break out.
As the battle spilled into regular space and civilians ended up caught in the crossfire, the fight devolved into several localized brawls against elements of the 1st to 6th Fleets Phoenix. While the Abh achieved some success, the convoys of Phoenix were not intended to be engaged in battle.
Battle of the Sord
To stem the tide of enemies spilling into the system, Ramaj had the 8 mobile fortresses of Lakfakalle bolster the lines at the sord that bridged Kryb to Ilysr and by extension, system Abriel. This valiant defense did buy time, but by force of numbers, the Alliance began to get mixed in among the defenders, mitigating the local superiority of Abh defensive firepower. The objective of Phoenix wasn't to fight the battle here, and slowly the situation worsened to where she needed to draw more fighting units away from the Phoenix fleets to hold the sord.
Seeing no alternative to save the convoys she had established, she made a significant call. Her fortresses were to advance and ram the enemy in plane space. As they did so, the fortresses were to self-destruct and halt the enemy advance. The final stand would begin here as former empress Admiral Abriel Lameimar advanced with her Kryb mobile heavy fortress. She managed to ram several heavy ships prior the self-destruct activation, paving the way for the other fortresses to follow.
The remaining fortresses and their destructive assault and sacrifice astonished the Alliance and fully halted their attack. The command stunned, especially with the complete loss of the Hania task force; which had been reduced to two ships, retreated briefly to consolidate and resume their attack. During this pause, Empress Ramaj ordered her guard through the sord, and from this point on, little is known outside of human sources of their stand on the other side of the gate.
"Trading lives for the life of the Empire"
- "I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy . . . I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."
- ―Entry quoting A Tale of Two Cities, Chapter XV. Found in journal of an unnamed Lander serviceman of the Laburec
Empress Abriel Ramaj and her Imperial Guard brawled in planar space against the remaining Alliance contingent. Being elite units, brawling at point blank range did not cause a disruption of command and control as it done to other Abh forces fighting so far. Form recovered journal entries and human accounts of the last stand, it seemed the Alliance did not wish to take the risk of venturing out while this Abh force operated against them. That or conflicting reports suggest that knowing these forces were the Imperial Guard, the Alliance anticipated the chance of killing the active sovereign of the Humankind Empire of Abh.
No matter the case, Ramaj chose to trade her fleet, and her own life, for her empire. Even as the guard were reduced to their last ships, no commander gave any order to retreat. Reportedly, the guard held on for hours and that only 40 ships were left at the end. They physically tightened their formation that even if destroyed, the enemy would need to physically drive the guard out; forcing the debris through the sord in order to advance. They chose to resist even in death and all perished in an effort to put up the greatest obstacles possible in the face of the enemy.
In the fighting, the Imperial Guard had been destroyed down to the last member of personnel. To this point in the war, the systematic destruction of a unit had not happened and this fight carried significant psychological impact to both sides. Once the Alliance had triumphed over the Guard, they entered system Abriel to find that the evacuation had largely been completed. Ramaj's stand had succeeded in buying the time needed to preserve the bastions of people who would be needed to carry on the fight.
- "What is our purpose? It's trading lives for the life of the Empire."
- ―Apocryphal statement from an Abh recruiter in the Laburec
To date, no unit of either force had been systematically destroyed in such a fashion with no survivors, even including Spoor's battle during the Battle of Lobnas II, where the objective was to break though, but an Alliance commanded did attempt to destroy 1st Fleet Hunter to the man.
With the destruction of the Imperial Guard and Empress Abriel Ramaj, the crown and overall command of both the Empire and Laburec fell upon Abriel Dusanyu. Presently, while he held that position, the rest of the line of succession remained in grave danger. Abriel Lafiel whom captained a ship evacuating the pillars of the Hero Memorial was now heir to the throne, and among the units in 5th Fleet Phoenix where he was headquartered and being pursued. Abriel Dubeusec had been in command of forces in the staging area of Kingdom Skiil, and with the loss of communication, his whereabouts are unknown. Finally, Abriel Duhir remains missing as well, last reported as serving as a communication officer in 5th Fleet Snow Crystal, commanded by Admiral Jamupeel.
In the midst of political and military chaos, two key things from the last stand are important. First, Abriel Dusanyu succeeded in breaking out towards the Barke Kingdom and now is free to link up and reorganize with Admiral Beneej Spoor currently commanding the 7th Fleet Phoenix. Additionally to that, the risk of looting, capture, or death have been minimized with the escape of the convoys largely intact. If the Alliance were to choose to pursue him immediately before consolidating at Lakfakalle, they pose a significant risk to their own numbers if their fleet were to be engaged as separate pursing units.
Second, the Four Nations Alliance with one battle shook the Abh Empire to the core out of complacency with the status quo of consistent Abh victory. Failure to treat Hania as a significant threat, acknowledge the risk of human ability to trade space for time, and misunderstanding the ability of the remnant of the United Mankind to organize a significant counterattack culminated in a new campaign that may significantly jeopardize Abh chance of victory in The War.