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 "Introducing the Khanate Empire"

Putting the Old Foe in MOTH and Firefight 2.0

A Firefight & MOTH Article by Gavin Syme

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Since the rejuvenation of the Ion Age players of the original Firefight game have wonderedwhen the ancient and powerful Shia Khan Empire will make its presence felt once more. With Firefight 2.0 and MOTH set in the Prydian Civil War, the time has now come to allow the Khanate to take to the battlefield once more.

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To download the below article as a fully formatted PDF produced by Alternative Armies click here, - Craig, Editor.

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What is This Primer?

Since the rejuvenation of the Ion Age players of the original Firefight game have wondered and asked when the ancient and powerful Shia Khan Empire will make its presence felt once more.

With the creation of firstly Firefight 2.0 and then MOTH, both rules systems set in the Prydian Civil War, the time has now come to allow the Khanate to take to the battlefield once more.

This primer is a free introduction to the Khanate Empire for everyone interested in the Ion Age and while it is short it contains all you need. An introduction for the Empire into the Prydian Precinct along with basic troop and weapon details. In addition some tables for stats and weapons for both MOTH and Firefight 2.0. All this will get you into the action.

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There is a secret at the heart of the Addan Council. A secret that could spell the end of the all the human lives in Prydian space. It is a secret that has been eating at the Council like a ravenous beast. A beast with an endless hunger that is consuming more and more lives in an effort to keep and more so contain it. What is this secret? It is the return of the ancient enemy of mankind. The coming once more of the Shia Khan Empire.

While the Civil War began to rage it was though odd and strange by many that the bulk of the already formed Prydian Army did not attempt to extinguish the fanning flames of insurrection. The marcher barons saw this as weakness and took full advantage of it. Little did they know that the army and the fleet had been formed not to prevent their grasping for the throne and its power but rather to combat another threat that had already pushed the existing regiments of the Council to breaking point. The first Prydian Army was to combat the Khanate, to keep them from this vicious enemy. In fact the following insurrectionist actions of Kadj Dace worked in favour of the Addan Council and allowed a further and more rapid expansion of the Prydian military. The troops of this larger expansion were the ones who attempted unsuccessfully to quench the flames of war while others, some three million soldiers and four thousand starships, were invested in the remote Carmarthen star cluster. There are six star systems in the far Carmarthen cluster including Carmarthen itself, the largest system, along with Mrydan and Ambrosia which have habitable planets. Fighting has been ongoing and continuous for three decades now. It was on Carmarthen IV that the nightmare was first realised.

Far from the New Glastonbury Tor and the inner systems of Prydia there was only a settlement of some half a million on Carmarthen IV most of whom were busy mining ores while a small research outpost investigated sites of ancient interest. This research outpost had uncovered many relics of the long vanished Free Companies and their masters the Templars and had sent them back to the academies of the inner systems. After study all of the relics had pointed to this out of the way planet once being an important place and indeed several deep impact craters pointed to orbital bombardment on an impressive and now outlawed scale.

Indeed the climate of the planet was still unstable and prone to raging storms and hurricanes. The largest impact crater was Belkus Grand near the only large city on Carmarthen IV named Pelacan and it was at the bottom of this monstrous hole that the entrance to the Belkus Labyrinth was located. After much debate it was decided that all of the scientists and academics would combine their efforts and undertake a full study and investigation of the labyrinth. It was felt that there the final relics and perhaps even answers to what had occurred all those years ago would be found.

It took months for the well equipped exploration teams to work their way through the labyrinth which was composed of many kilometres of smooth tunnels and large chambers many of which were blocked with rubble that seemed to have been purposefully blasted into place. As the tunnels were cleared and their winding ways mapped the teams began to encounter long since defunct automatic defence droids and security systems of types only known to the dim past; all of these had rotted away to little more than rusted piles of scrap. Beyond these deep scans revealed a vast central cavern to which there was only one entrance. An entrance large enough for a Cassillis type portable castle to fit through sealed with a door that was made of an unknown metal. For a week all the teams converged and unleashed a barrage of projectiles and energy beams at the door but it did not yield. Even high grade plasma bolts did not mark the detailed surface of the portal. Hope of getting it open began to fade but one young researcher named Hugo Sevaris, an expert on the banned litanies of the Templars, said he could use his knowledge where might had failed. It did not take long for the gathered host of researchers to agree. It would cost them nothing to allow him to try.

The huge door was etched with faded symbols and detailed text that few could read and among the teams only Sevaris could translate it all. This he managed in two days without rest. He then immediately took an anti-grav pack and floated up and across the surface of the vast portal and touched it gently in more than a hundred places in a set order. All the while he incanted in an ever rising voice passages that had not been spoken in millennia. With the last touch mechanisms turned loudly and the door opened ever so slowly. It took an hour to open fully and was so thick that four men could link hands and not touch each side of its breadth. Hugo Sevaris, still aloft, was the first to enter the cavern as soon as a gap big enough for him to squeeze through had formed. In the excitement he was not missed. Air not breathed in a very long time spilled from the cavern and as powerful portable lights were moved forward and activated a scenefrom a nightmare was revealed. Of Severis, now remembered, there was no sign but he was forgotten again as the research teams lit more and more of the cavern and gazed upon heaps of skeletons and broken armour. Ancient forms of Alwite and Aketon armour along with their weapons interwoven with other bodies in tattered uniforms that were not human were evidence of a savage battle in the dark. Even the mighty door had scarring to its rear side where the metal had run and sloughed off from the impact of weapons they had no knowledge of. The corpses went on for a kilometre before the teams reached the foot of a huge green dais that led up on endless steps to a platform seemingly hewn from black obsidian. Here on the platform there were no bodies and no sign of the awful battle that filled the whole cavern with long dead corpses.

In the centre of the platform was a recessed circle that was over a hundred meters across and at its side two huge pillars that had once been linked by a small beam of sparkling material that now lay on the platform's surface. While the teams debated and send out runners to the surface for a security detail to begin collecting the still lethal weapon laying about out of nowhere Hugo Severis

swooped down and past them. He lifted the sparkling beam and then rose to place it once more between the pillars. Almost at once a blinding light much brighter than a sun along with a tumult of indescribable sound filled the cavern. Everyone of the researchers on the platform fell to the ground and clutch their heads trying to shield their eyes, ears and even their minds against the onslaught. Most lost consciousness within moments.

The howling died down and the cavern was illuminated with a purple light that came from the ball of seething energy that hung over the circular recess in the platform's surface. Hugo Sevaris now capered in front of the assembled research teams, madness in his eyes, before howling and with a fanatical grin told them that the Matter Gateway was now open and that he would take a message of peace to the Great Khan itself. Before anyone could stop him Sevaris threw himself into the whirling ball of energy and vanished with a whip crack of tearing sound.

Panic seized the researchers. A matter gateway! Where had Hugo Sevaris gone? The only reference to a matter gateway they knew was from the story told to all children of the Dragon ships and the activation of the Aldan Crucible that even now made space travel dangerous with the roaming Dolorous Expanses it had created. The crucible had destroyed an entire star system, a system that had contained a matter gateway of the Khanate Empire! But that had been millennia ago. Surely this could not be the same thing, not after all this time.

A horror dawned on them all almost as one. A horror that gnawed and stretched into cries of terror. The craters, the labyrinth, the door, the piled corpses. They all pointed to the Carmarthen system being the site of another Khanate entrance into their galaxy. And now it was active once more!

Sevaris had entered the gateway and had to be considered lost but he had also taken with him the one functioning anti-grav pack they had in the cavern. The matter gateway had been activated by the replacing of the sparkling beam between the pillars. Shutting it down must be accomplished in the same way. The problem facing them was that the pillars were the height of buildings and totally smooth; even atop each others shoulders they could not reach the beam. The heaviest cutting laser they had on the platform was carried forward and aimed at the inaccessible beam. It began to cut into it but it was a slow process that would take many hours. Two hours had already past since Sevaris had entered the gateway. Perhaps history would have been different but for Hugo Sevaris. He had opened the door, he had activated the Matter Gateway and he had passed through it. He was the only man to have seen the world it connected to, perhaps the only man ever to see a Khanate world. No one will ever know for the only part of him to return to the vast underground cavern was his head and along with it came the start of a seemingly endless invasion.

The sparkling connecting beam was cut more than halfway through when the head of Hugo Sevaris was thrown through the gateway to bounce and roll to the feet of the now cowed group of scientists and researchers. They had already sent a runner with an urgent message to bring every soldier of the Carmarthen Planetary Militia to the Belkus Grand crater and to destroy or otherwise seal up the now active matter gateway. Those militia troops were now approaching from all over the planet aboard their grav platforms and the nearest were even entering the far end of the cavern as the severed head was propelled through.

It was less than a minute before more creatures followed the remains of Sevaris back through the gateway and into Prydian space.

Blinking into existence from the purple light of the gateway came ten figures dressed in shimmering red suits, their faces covered with helms and their hands holding vicious looking rifles and carbines. Their suits flexed and glimmered in many shades of red as they moved almost as if it was their very skin. One removed his helm with a hiss of broken pressure seals, its eye pieces changing from an illuminated yellow to a dead black as silken threads snapped apart. Placing the helm in the crook of its arm the Khanate soldier simply looked at the cowering humans. Its two eyes a vivid lilac and its ears peaking to points the soldier turned its gaze to the rest of the platform and the boundaries of the cavern that receded into the dim distance. None of the aliens spoke and though humanoid in appearance they could not be men; their faces along the length of their arms and legs plus the curious grace with which they moved marked them out as something else altogether.

The gateway blinked once more and a group of short and evil looking creatures clutching pistols and stubby carbines emerged on to the platform. Wearing some sort of quilted metallic jerkins their dark green skin made them look imposing even as their eyes gleamed with a fanatical zeal. These things also were alien they had a foul smell and spat continually onto the black surface of the platform. They gibbered to each other in a tongue that make no sense to human ears and waved their weapons in the direction of the researchers. A single look from the graceful alien who had removed his helm brought them to instant silence and order. A third and final flash from the gateway brought forth one more alien creature. A giant, fully over three metres tall. Its whole body humanoid in appearance but even under the same sort of shimmering suit the graceful aliens wore the humans could see great bunches of muscle driving it forward. Each step sounded with a thump as it advanced away from the purple sphere of whirling energy. As it moved it swept a very large nine barrelled weapon in front of it. Stopping to the right of the still silent helmet less alien there was not a sound to be hear other than the eerie crackling of the active matter gateway.

Silence fell over this meeting of two civilisations, but only for merest moment. The alien soldiers in red open fire with bolts of blue laser fire upon the cutting laser that was working furiously to sever the connecting beam that kept the gateway active. It exploded into a myriad of fragments leaving the beam intact and the gateway open. The giant stepped forward and the barrels of its weapon began to spin. The researchers screamed and scattered just as the first salvo of Anvil 888 rounds from the Carmarthen Militia lobbed from the edge of the platform impacted all around them and the Khanate soldiers. With a sound like a demon being tortured the multibarrelled weapon fired; its muzzle flash more than two meters long. The researchers died and many of the rounds crossed the cavern and impacted on the far wall where more than a dozen platoons of Planetary Militia were passing through the door while others desperately tried to close it.

The whole cavern began to echo to the sound of weapons fire that got louder and more intense. Among the familiar rattling of Moth Type 6 Rifles and the boom of Anvil 888 rounds came different sounds not heard for centuries. Sounds of death that came from the hands of the Khanate. With a bravery that would become legend the Carmarthen Militia came to realise that the door could not be closed by anyone without the knowledge that Hugo Sevaris had possessed and decided instead to sell their lives dearly.

It would take another thirty minutes for several thousand more militia to arrive plus the small detachment of three hundred Retained Knights based at Pelacan city. Currently they outnumbered the Khanate by four to one but more aliens were blinking into existence on the platform continually in small groups; as many at a time as the gateway seemed able to permit.

Through his comm net the commander of the militia received word that the Retained were inbound and had been given permission to active the Wicca Protocol and were as a result carrying with them one of Pelacan's civil fusion reactors. If it did not look like they could halt the Khanate incursion within the first minutes of contact then they would overload and detonate the reactor in the basin of the Belkus Grand crater. This would bury and hopefully destroy the matter gateway or at least give the Addan Council time to dispatch the fleet to the Carmarthen star cluster.

Meanwhile at the Pelacan star port three shuttles blasted skywards towards a starship waiting to take them out of the system. At its fastest possible speed the starship travelled away from the Carmarthan cluster to the inner systems and the Addan Council. It carried vid-logs and transcribed messages along with the researchers who had escaped the cavern acting as runners so that they might deliver a message to the leaders of Prydian space. The message was short, it was simple and it was horrifying. 

"A matter gateway is active on Carmarthen IV. Losses are mounting, send everything; everyone. Send them now. The Khanate have returned."

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The Khanate Briefing

Welcome commander to this intelligence briefing. As you will be aware this information is top secret and its dissemination will be punishable with a noncommutable death sentence with immediate effect. Here follows the intelligence gathered from the lost research teams that entered the Belkus Grand crater, the traitor Hugo Sevaris, the lost Carmarthen Planetary Militia battalions and the last tight beam bulletin from Baron Everitt commander of the decimated Retained on Carmarthen IV.

This information will be all we can offer you when your troops drop onto the planet and engage the Khanate directly around the newly formed Belkus Depression and the ruins of the Pelacan municipal area. We estimate the presence of some three hundred thousand enemy troops including large numbers of Nox and the Styx Legion along with the verminous Maligs. Consult this brief and commit it to memory as no soft or hard copies will be allowed on planet. We must prevent the Khanate learning more about us than is absolutely needed.

Our partial records from the times of the Ban of Prejudice are insufficient to provide solid designation of Khanate forces and in light of that we have kept to the ancient Terran system of assigning our designations based on the Roman gods and mythological pantheon. We do not have any decoders capable of understanding the speech of the few Maligs we have captured alive. These are truly alien foes. Always keep that in mind and be aware that they do not want peace. They do not want co-operation or a shared galaxy. They want us all dead.

Knight General Obermann...

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MOTH Khanate Typical Character Table

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MOTH Khanate Armour Table

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MOTH Khanate Core Weapons Table

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Weapons noted with an asterix ( * ) cannot make a second shot per activation. They may make one shot per activation. Note though that if the character wielding the weapon has a character in base to base contact with them who has the LOADER specialisation then the weapon MAY fire twice per turn with the normal second shot negative modifier. If a LOADER has a personal weapon and does not act as a Loader for the heavy weapon he is assigned to then the character may make ranged fire as normal when activated.

Weapons listed as HEAVY may only be used by characters with the HEAVY HITTER specialisation.

Weapons noted with two asterisk ( ** ) may make TWO shots per ranged fire action. This means two shots at two different characters within allowable range, cover etc with no second shot modifier. If a second ranged fire action is chosen then TWO more shots may be made as before but both suffer the second shot modifier.

Weapons which have 'Indirect Fire' listed may choose to fire that type of round directly or indirectly as per the rules for indirect fire.

Allowed Character means any character of the stated type or greater stature can possess the weapon. In the Khanate Army almost all weapons are given out to all slave races except for certain heavier and exotic weapons which are seldom trusted to Betrayers or Maligs.

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Firefight 2.0 Khanate Stats Table

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Firefight 2.0 Khanate Weapons Table

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Webmaster's Notes

This article was originally published on Barking Irons Online and is reproduced here with permission.

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