The first shouts of dissent: The Sons of Unity
One would think that, given the provisions of the Royal Decree that created the RBFL, all parties concerned would be at the very least content with it. But given that the RBFL was a setup that introduced many firsts to the longstanding traditions and prerogatives of the Great Clans, problems were certain to rear their heads.
Many of these issues, particularly with the way the mercenaries were being treated by most Clan Regulars and the Royal Guards and the disposition of “spoils” and payment, went by with little incident at first. It was only after the vicious action on Cariella IV, where the Wheldan Conglomerate fought a two-week battle with the emerging Cartella over the rich mining concessions of the planet, a conflict largely fought by mercenaries from several Clans, did inequalities between the mercenaries and their masters came to the fore.
To combat the large force gathered by Cartella for the battle, the Wheldan Family hired “regular” Divisions from Clans Solus and Lunus along with an elite battalion of Verduran Nightblades. The Solus Second and Fourth Irregulars, and the Lunus First Long Rifles, bore the brunt of the fighting against Cartella’s own troops and its mercenaries from Clan Lupus. Meanwhile, insisting on their “signature tactics,” the Verduran Nightblades used the Lupus’ preoccupation with their traditional rivals (the Solus) to do significant damage to their command structure and support systems, forcing Cartella to withdraw.
But not after the Wheldan’s Solus and Lunus mercenaries suffered heavy losses. The Fourth Irregulars were a combat unit only on paper, while the Second was down to three effective battalions (RBFL Divisions usually fielded at least three to four regiments, plus the Solus usually attached Battalion Combat Teams to its Divisions). The Lunus First Long Rifles were almost wiped out to a man, since the Lupus commanding the Clan’s divisions under contract to the Cartella – no less than the Red Maw, Duke Leonidas, himself – ordered his “special strike battalion” to specifically target the elite marksmen of Clan Lunus.
This special unit was commanded by a certain Harvey Lunus, and it was in this action where he fought his last as a warrior of Clan Lupus; when next he brought his hammer to the field a year later, Harvey wore the colors of the Third Solus Irregulars. But this is a story for another time.
Death, especially that of one’s comrades, is the lot of every warrior, and those who specifically make war their trade should expect no less a cost for their endeavors. The heavy death toll was, therefore, not new to those who were left of the Solus and Lunus formations. After all, they were paid to die for the Wheldans.
What irked the commanders of the Second Solus Irregulars was that the Wheldans paid the Verdura more. Granted that the actions of the Nightblades contributed greatly to the success of the cause of the “client,” the officers of the Second Solus Irregulars argued that the compensation granted to the Verdura was far greater than those who sacrificed their very lives to act as “bait” for the Lupus and the Cartella. The Verdura haughtily commented that, though the Nightblades were part of the RBFL, they were also mostly composed of Verdura men and women, since the secretive Clan rarely utilized the “Freemen Hiring” clause of the RBFL Edict.
“When you think about it, the Nightblades are actually at par with Clan Regular Divisions, and we see them that way and thus demand greater payment, to which the client agreed to,” the Verdura said. “Do you expect a commoner’s payment for the service of your betters? It would be like putting Tamara Black Gold beside that powdered thing you all drink in the morning and calling them both coffee.”
Even more galling, instead of honoring the dead of the First Lunus Long Rifles and their sacrifice, Archduke Isidore, Head of Clan Lunus, considered their near-destruction as a “failure, and example of gross ineptitude unworthy of the storied martial history of the Lunus,” and struck the colors of the First Long Rifles from the Rolls of Clan Lunus’ RBFL Divisions. This done, Isidore Lunus also denied the families of the dead any recompense, since he wasn’t expected to pay those who were not (anymore) in the employ of his Clan, nor those who were removed from service to the Lunus for lackluster performance.
(An aside: some say that Isidore Lunus, though thoroughly insane at this point, reacted with such harshness at the fate of the First Long Rifles because it was Harvey who destroyed them. He couldn’t accept that his “abnormal” nephew, by then long outcast from Clan Lunus, could better his troops.
Harvey was already haunted at having spilled so much of the blood of his Clan and especially those in their employ as mercenaries; dislike them he did, but hate them he did not, at least not enough to visit such destruction upon them if he could avoid it, most especially to men and women who were merely working for his family. But Harvey was ordered by Leonidas to “wipe them damned Lunus off the face of this planet; and what better way to do it than at the hands of a damned Lunus? Hrhrhr,” and as a warrior he could do nothing but follow his orders.
Hearing of the fate of the First Long Rifles, and the casualness at which Leonidas and the rest of the Lupus regarded this incident, was the last straw that made Harvey resign from service to Clan Lupus. The abuse he received from the Lupus was something he could take, but the casual disregard for the lives of those who fought well and honorably, or the lack of concern for those they left behind, was something Harvey found despicable.
Decades later, after he came to his own and was restored to his rightful place as a Lord of Clan Lunus, Harvey sold much of his recovered birthright and gave the money raised to the survivors and families of the First Long Rifles. And one of the bills he personally saw to becoming an Act of the Federation during his time in the Senate was a law that provided adequate recompense and honor to all those who fought and died as members of the RBFL)
Angered, the officers of the Second Solus Irregulars brought their grievances to their lord, Archduke Mikhail. The Head of Clan Solus, though sympathetic to his soldiers, eventually had to tell them that he could do nothing since, apparently, the RBFL Edict allowed the Wheldans, Verdura and Lunus to do what they just did. Archduke Mikhail could only offer to hire the remnant of the Long Rifles and absorb them into the reforming Third Solus Irregulars alongside the survivors of the Fourth Irregulars.
After several more actions in the Trader War, the Second Solus Irregulars, along with elements from several RBFL divisions, mutinied. They gathered at Ankaris II, the planet called the “Proving Grounds” of the RBFL, and there declared themselves as the Sons of Unity, calling on all Bellato Freemen “to overthrow the decadent and greedy oligarchy of Clans, Corporations and Crown”, put an end to the centuries of Bellato spilling Bellato blood, and ensure equality for all. They called for all RBFL Divisions to join them in their cause, for the Royal Guards to lay down their arms and Queen Serena to abdicate in favor of “the people.”
In response, Serena sent half of the Royal Guards Divisions, and two Divisions of Clan Aquius’ Marines. The Avius also contributed two whole fleets to the action.
The Sons of Unity were defeated in just three days, one of them seeing the Avius warfleets subjecting Ankaris to almost continuous orbital bombardment for a whole day.
She also charged Clan Solus with the total expenses incurred by the Royal Guards and the Avius fleets in “fixing a problem your men caused.”
Everyone thought that this was the end of the Sons of Unity, but a few cadres escaped the devastation of Ankaris and went underground, biding their time and rebuilding their strength. Their next major action was an attempt to torpedo the negotiations between the Monarchy and the Holy Alliance of Cora, where the latter was considering hiring RBFL Divisions for use in its coming war against the Accretian Empire, to which the Monarchy had already signed contracts with.
As is told elsewhere, the Sons of Unity apparently succeeded, though events during the First Novus War would show that the conspirators had been outmaneuvered once again by Serena, who used the incident to hide from the Accretians, and the Bellato public and the Recluses, the fact that RBFL Divisions would be provided to the Cora at need.
For a substantial price, of course.
Next: the RBFL during the First Novus War