24th Imperial Crusade
The 24th Imperial Crusade is a capsuleer auxiliary of the Amarr Navy that is dedicated to pacifying the low sec areas that are contested between the Amarr Empire and the Minmatar Republic. It was founded in YC110 following the CONCORD Emergency Militia War Powers Act.
Launch of the Crusade
On June 10, YC110, the Minmatar Elders and Thukker Tribe launched an invasion of the Ammatar Mandate and Amarr Empire with the intent of freeing as many slaves as possible. The Elder Fleet, as it came to be known, inflicted heavy damage on both nations, before it was halted over Mekhios by Jamyl Sarum. The remnants of the fleet retreated toward the Minmatar Republic, where it was allowed to pass freely despite a bounty offer by CONCORD.
In response to the aggression of the Minmatar, the Amarr Empire wished to declare war. CONCORD, however, ordered a cease fire and brought the full power of its rapid response capability to bear in enforcing this directive. However, with similar hostilities occurring between the Caldari State and Gallente Federation, CONCORD was pressured into allowing combat. Rather than plunge the cluster into the chaos of all-out war, the empires agreed to fight a semi-proxy war, utilizing the capsuleers as their main fighting force, with Navy ships acting in defensive positions only. The combat would additionally be limited only to border-regions between the hostile entities; in this case, within the Sasen, Tandoiras, and Vaarma constellations of the Bleak Lands, the Semou and Jayai constellations of Devoid, the Hed and Huvilma constellations of Heimatar, and the Essin, Tiat, Eugidi, Angils and Aldodan constellations of Metropolis.
The early goings were difficult for the Crusade. Despite the Minmatar having initiated hostilities, the Crusade found itself lacking for capable pilots. A number of Amarr loyalist corporations had signed up to fight on behalf of the Empire, but the Tribal Liberation Force had rallied their numbers. Despite the best efforts of the Crusade and its allied corporations, they lacked communication and the ability to work together for concentrated efforts.
Within a few months, the majority of the Amarr systems had fallen into Tribal hands. The losses were so striking that the Theology Council issued an unprecedented recall of valuable artifacts from the Bleak Lands in an effort to keep them from falling into Minmatar hands.
Fortunes began to change for the Crusade shortly after. In late July, Dresen Karnell, an Ammatar scientist who had been captured during the invasion, managed to escape the Republic and flee back to the Empire. However, during his flight, he was shot down by Tribal forces and crash landed on a habitable moon in Huola. Karnell managed to send out a distress call, prompting Crusade leadership to declare his recovery a high priority.
The Crusade pilots rallied around the command and put forth a concerted effort to take Huola. It managed to do so 12 days later. A rescue team landed on the moon, but the scientist had abandoned the wreck site in an effort to find water. The Crusade managed to hold the system for another three days, allowing Karnell to be located and successfully extracted.
Heavy fighting between the Tribal Liberation Force and 24th Imperial Crusade continued for several months following the retake of Huola. The Crusade slowly managed to retake lost Bleak Lands systems, but had yet to recover several key locations.
In late October, Yonis Ardishapur sent forth a call to the Crusade to recover the system Kourmonen. The bones of a lost saint had been confirmed to be resting on a planet in the system and Ardishapur wished them safely recovered. Similarly, Uriam Kador announced that a dangerous artifact had been discovered in Aset and urged the Crusade to take the system so it would not remain in Minmatar hands.
The militia managed to retake Kourmonen on November 12th, returning the Bleak Lands fully to Amarr control. The bones of St. Aman were excavated and transported to Dabka under the orders of Yonis Ardishapur. Soon after, the Ardishapur Family bestowed the Kourmonen Campaign Medal on several pilots who had participated most heavily in the fighting over the system.
With the Bleak Lands back under Amarr control, fighting between it and the TLF turned into something of a stalemate. Systems on both sides were captured and fell, with neither militia able to make significant gains for a long period of time.
In June of YC111, the Crusade, with assistance from the State Protectorate, destroyed a capital-ship led pirate fleet in Amamake. Shortly after that victory, they inflicted heavy losses on a TLF fleet. Several weeks later a large battle featuring all four militias in Taff system was briefly won by the Crusade and Protectorate, though the capsuleer alliance Northern Coalition intervened and assaulted both sides, eventually destroying a Crusade dreadnaught and a Tribal control tower.
In October, a special penal brigade was founded in the Mandate and sent to assist the Crusade in a logistical capacity. Ardishapur ordered the brigade to work to reconstructing Ezzara, a system which had seen heavy fighting over the previous several months.
Despite the efforts, Ezzara was captured by the Tribal Liberation Force in January of YC112. As fighting moved to Haras, the Tribals managed to take Sahtogas, its only access point. Shortly after, the system of Kourmonen also fell back into Tribal hands, bringing the total number of occupied Amarr systems to seven.
Over the next several months, the Crusade slowly managed to turn their fortunes around again. They eventually began to push into Metropolis. While gains were made, eventually an equilibrium returned to the sides, though the Crusade did manage to destroy a Tribal carrier.
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