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Red Sun Rising

The Japanese Enclave on Mars in Space: 1889

by John Gannon


With each passing year, the Human presence expands across the faces of Mars as the soldiers, scientists and explorers of Earth range far and wide across the dry, deadly surface of this dying world. But while the French, English, Americans, Belgians, and Germans busy themselves in the Coprates Valley Area, the Mare Acidilium, or the Syrtis Lapis Basin, the Japanese have quietly but efficiently established a presence for themselves near the remote city of Euxinus Lacus. While the other powers may clash with native Martians and each other, the Japanese go quietly about their tasks, developing their area of influence without fanfare, and slowly, carefully, bringing their plans to fruition . . . .

Euxinus Lacus -- Background

A poor city since its founding, Euxinus Lacus has never figured prominently in the affairs of Mars. Located in the Northern Hemisphere, nearing the Polar Cap, Euxinus Lacus was always considered an out of the way place. Founded 5,000 years ago as the site of Resort Palace, the city itself grew slowly, almost as an afterthought. Its major waterway, the Herculis Canal, dried up almost a thousand years ago, and the Propontis Canal followed only a few decades later, leaving Euxinus Lacus in a position similar to that of Aubachon. Since that time, the fact that Euxinus Lacus has survived as a city is due mostly to the annual spring run off from the Polar Cap which provides enough water to maintain the city, as well as the passage of caravans and aerial merchants, bringing needed supplies and assorted hard-to-get items to Euxinus Lacus. Even the arrival of Humans on Mars nearly 20 years ago had little impact on the city, for it was so isolated and out of the way that it seemed to many as if no human government or trading concern could ever be bothered to make contact with Euxinus Lacus. Things have changed in recent times for Euxinus Lacus though...and not always for the better.

Euxinus Lacus -- Recent History

Four years ago, in 1885, a Japanese expedition (consisting of two companies of infantry, a squadron of cavalry, a battery of field guns, and a large group of scientists, merchants, and government officials) ended almost a year of cross-planetary travel at a small village about 75-80 miles west of the city of Euxinus Lacus. While details are sketchy, it is known that the Japanese scientists in the expedition were adamant and determined that they must have access to this site. After several days of what the Japanese felt were fruitless negotiations with the local inhabitants, the expedition attacked and seized the site. In the days that followed, the Japanese consolidated their hold on the small village, ensuring it's subordination and then driving out the native inhabitants. Four days later, in a simple ceremony, The Honourable Sato Ichikawa, Personal Representative of His Divine Eminence, The Emperor, raised the Imperial Standard over the site and proclaimed the founding of Unebi Station, an Imperial possession. Why they chose this remote and poorly accessible spot to establish their holding on Mars is a secret known only to the Japanese, but it is in keeping with the habits of the closed, introverted Japanese society and culture. Significantly, it was only after they had established control of Unebi Station that a Japanese delegation approached the Anwaak of Euxinus Lacus to discuss matters of recognition and economic exchange.

Since the Japanese had attacked and seized an area nominally under the rule of the Anwaak of Euxinus Lacus, the initial reaction to the Japanese was not a positive one, nor did further contact ease any of the anger or resentment that the attack had caused. Once they met with the city rulers, the Japanese essentially dictated a deal to the Anwaak and his council, which awarded the Japanese all rights to the area now known as Unebi Station without compensation for the Anwaak, but granting him the "friendship and gratitude of the Emperor". When the Anwaak hesitated to approve this arrangement, the Japanese used subtle threats of force or the possibility of a Japanese alliance with the city of Herculis to ensure that the ruler of Euxinus Lacus went along with it. Since that time, the Japanese have been scrupulously correct but somewhat tactless by Martian standards, in their dealings with the city. As Japanese government representatives and merchant agents arrived to help consolidate the Japanese position, they made sure to buy everything they used and to pay for all facilities and services. However, the insults to the honour of the Anwaak by the "Little Red Men" (as the Japanese are called) have not been forgotten, nor forgiven. Thus, while the Japanese and other humans settle into the city, the Anwaak waits for his opportunity to redeem his honour -- at their expense.

The presence of the Japanese brought increased trade and travel to the area, stimulating the economy and bringing the name Euxinus Lacus into the courts and councils of other Martian Cities. With the entrenchment of the Japanese in the city, other human nations have also sent envoys and delegations to Euxinus Lacus, if only to monitor the Japanese. Thus, Euxinus Lacus now finds itself experiencing new growth and prosperity - but it is not a happy city and the discontent is old and embedded in the local population.. Inevitably, it's peaceful facade seems to slip a little with each passing day...

Euxinus Lacus -- Today

Since the establishment of Unebi Station, most of the Japanese have kept to themselves out there. However, the Japanese have by no means abdicated any interest in Euxinus Lacus itself. All Japanese trade comes through Euxinus Lacus and the Japanese presently monopolize the small shipyard within the city as they use its' facilities to construct IJAS Rakio, sister ship to IJAS Mikasa. The Japanese maintain their major diplomatic mission within the city to deal with the Martians and the other Colonial Powers. With the influx of Japanese merchants and scientists, the economy of Euxinus Lacus is now on the upswing. Tensions in the city are quite high though, for while this level of involvement helps the economy, it does nothing to improve the relationship between Japanese and Martian. The Japanese tend to treat the locals with poorly concealed contempt (as befits a vanquished inferior under the code of Bushido). The local population for their part are resentful of this treatment within their own city, but understand that the Japanese have the guns and ships to back up their stance. Anwaak Sasidaar of Euxinus Lacus is determined to learn what the Japanese are up to at Unebi Station, but since his army is poor and his fleet is little better, he knows he cannot challenge the Japanese with force of arms. He has tolerated the Japanese attitude, but has recently made secret contact with the Russians at Hecate Lacus, in the hopes of arranging some sort of deal with them to help him oust the Japanese from his lands and while at the same time earning Russian protection from Japanese reprisals.

The city shows the impact of the ages upon itself. The portion of the city that lies north of Herculis-Propontis Canal (known as the North Shore) is the older, more established region of the city with the better homes, most successful businesses, the Royal Palace, and associated offices of government. The South-East Quarter of the city was at one time the great market and merchant area, though since the passing of the canals, it has become only a shadow of itself. Now, many buildings are simply abandoned while those that remain are occupied by what merchants still operate in the city, by transients and caravans, and by middle to lower class residences. Crime is rampant in the district, and many of the anti-human movements have established themselves in this part of the city. The South West Quarter survives as a residential/retail centre, much as it has for years, and it is also the site of the local shipyard, as well as the city's "Human District". The district itself is bounded by a medium-sized wall and the district is irregularly patrolled by Japanese soldiers who act in the role of a deterrent to the street crime that is rampant throughout the rest of the city. Almost all humans live inside the Human District, although there are a few who maintain residences and businesses in other areas of the city. Within the District, The British, French, and Russians all maintain small consulates for handling relations with the Japanese and the Prince. The Japanese maintain a large compound that houses one company of Imperial infantry, a large diplomatic/administrative staff, as well as a large trade/scientific delegation. The entire Japanese mission is headed by Count Yasushi Hashimoto, The Emperor's Special Representative to Mars.

Japanese Influences on Government

In a truly novel approach to human influence on Mars, the Japanese do not involve themselves in the administration or foreign policy of the city in any way. Instead, since the day the Japanese made their deal with the Prince regarding Unebi Station, they have maintained a policy of non-interference in the local government, except to ensure that no other colonial power gains any great influence with the Prince and his council. The Japanese Residency within Euxinus Lacus is a large and busy place, but not much different from any other Embassy belonging to a European power. For his part, the Anwaak continues to administer his city and lands, all the while searching for an opportunity to recover the initiative from the Japanese and gain the upper hand in his dealings with them. Both sides know that the present calm is merely a facade until the moment when the Martians are ready to act. In the meantime, the Japanese continue their work at Unebi Station while their military forces ready themselves for the coming confrontation.

Japanese/Martian Relations

While relations with Euxinus Lacus may be poor, the Japanese are presently involved in wooing some of the other nearby cities with economic and social packages (favoured trade position, political non-interference, access to some human knowledge, etc) in exchange for a preferred status in their dealings as opposed to the other colonial powers. The Japanese are particularly eager to conclude some sort of arrangement with the city of Herculis that will keep the Russians from gaining a foothold in that city as they view Russian colonial expansion on Mars with the same dread as they views recent Russian moves near the Korean Peninsula on Earth. In the other direction, the Japanese are conducting low-level talks and trade with Propontis, if only to keep the city neutral and so as to be able have a finger on the pulse of local events and trends.

Amongst the European Powers, the Japanese seem content to merely maintain diplomatic relations at their present levels, neither worsening or improving them, while they concentrate on developing relations with the various Martian factions. This means that their contacts are correct and formal with the British (who they view as a rival in Asia but not on Mars), friendly with the Germans (the Japanese are now studying German military techniques and adopting many of them for their own services), tolerant of the French ,and annoyed with the Americans (mostly due to trade policies). Relations with the Russians are formal and awkward as both nations seem to be competing for influence in the same regions both on Mars and on Earth.

Unebi Station

Once a small community of canal fishermen, itinerant farmers, labourers, and simple peasantry. When the Japanese came, however, the quiet life of the village was ended -- quickly and violently. What made Unebi Station so highly prized to the Japanese is not known, though both humans and martians constantly seek to discover the reason. What is known it that the Japanese consider it valuable enough to base their entire military might there, and to deny access to all foreign humans and martians. Since the Japanese occupation began, no martian or non-japanese human has set foot in Unebi Station.

The Secret of Unebi Station

For most Game Masters and Players, a single question stands out from all others "What is the secret of Unebi Station?" Allow me to present three possible answers to that question, each of which has been used in playtest situations. Naturally, each Game Master will have their own ideas about what is most suitable for their own campaigns, and other possible secrets, rather than the one's presented here can always be used.

First, the Japanese may have discovered that Unebi Station sits upon a vast, rich untapped and heretofore unknown deposit of Radium, a well-known element of Victorian Scientific Fiction. Radium is a glowing, non-contaminating source of incredible energy and power, which when harnessed to special turbines, produces unlimited amounts of electricity and propulsion power. For game purposes, this allows the use of Radium Engines' on airships. These engines can be fitted into a vessel hull in a manner similar to Conventional and Forced Draught Steam Engines. The Engine Size (ES) of the Radium Engine multiplied by 15 is it's weight in tons. ES multiplied by 6 divided by Hull Size (HS) = Speed. It should be noted that Radium Engines' cost $3,000 per size number, but do not require a Coal Bunker. The endurance of Radium Engines is calculated at ES X 15 = the number of days. Replacement blocks of Radium cost $30 per ES (ie, a ES 4 Radium Engine would cost $120 to refuel at the end of it's Endurance). Naturally, these numbers assume you could find Radium to begin with, which should be kept extremely rare. For the purposes of this plot line, only the Japanese would have access to significant amounts of Radium, and would be developing a "Radium Engine" at Unebi Station for use in their warships.

Alternatively, the Japanese could have discovered another rare mineral -- Carbelium. Carbelium is an unstable, corrosive substance which, when mixed with measured amounts of mercury and lead, can be used to create enhanced ammunition types. The impact of Carbelium-treated rounds for aerial combat would be to increase the Pen value of such rounds by a factor of 1 (ie, a 6-pdr HRC would have a Pen of 2/1 with Carbelium-treated rounds as opposed to it's normal Pen of 1/0). On smaller quantities of ammunition, or weapons whose rate of fire is low (ie, rifles and pistols) the effects of Carbelium are negligible (no modifiers). Japanese vessels or artillery units firing Carbelium-treated rounds would be able to bring devastating fire, quite out of proportion with the number and types of weapons they might be using. Unebi Station would be a mine, a smelter, and an Ammunition Plant, turning out Carbelium-Treated rounds for use by their airships and artillery units.

Lastly, the Japanese could have discovered either a large and highly exploitable vein of Martian Gold (purer than Earth Gold and extremely rare with corresponding value) which would give them enormous economic clout, or perhaps another treasure, such as vast deposits of coal or even oil.

Whatever the true secret of Unebi Station may turn out to be, the Japanese presence there and their involvement in the day to day life of Euxinus Lacus ensure that tensions in the regions will not fade away, and as both the Japanese and Russians are slowly and inexorably drawn towards Herculis, a new confrontation looms in the offing. For the present, the Japanese continue to conduct their research activities and marshal their forces at Unebi Station, while staying active on the diplomatic front, to ensure no other powers gains a dominant position in Euxinus Lacus. The Japanese have taken a different tact in their dealings with the Martians as opposed to the other human powers, and the purpose to their low-key approach to colonialism is not yet clear. There is no doubt however, that the Japanese are on Mars to stay.

Euxinus Lacus
Population: 60,000
Government Type: Weak Prince (Subject City)
Corruption Level: Corrupt
Economy Type: Mercantile
Economic Vitality: Poor
Attitude Towards Humans: Indifferent (leaning towards Hostile)

Euxinus Lacus Air Fleet "The Anwaak's Arm"

The grand title of this aerial force was bestowed upon it last year by the Anwaak himself, in a ceremony that included the re-affirmation of Oaths, presentation of Swords of Command, and the award of Banners to each vessel. Neither the title nor the Banners however, have done little to improve the overall efficiency or quality of the Air Fleet.

Fleet Quality: Green
Fleet Size: 8
Fleet Value: $180,000

The fleet is composed of eight vessels -- one Swiftwood (Flagship); one Fleetfoot; three Clearsights; and three Blood Runners. All vessels conform to the standard description for their class. The crews of all vessels are green with Trained officers, except for the Flagship Anwaak's Wrath, which is manned by an Experienced crew with Veteran officers. Officers carry rifled pistols and swords. Crewmen and Marines are armed with smoothbore muskets. All officers aboard the flagship carry French Lebel revolvers and Martian swords, while the crew of the flagship are armed with German 71 Pattern, single-shot, breech-loading Mauser Rifles.

The War Hosts of Euxinus Lacus

The massed armies of Euxinus Lacus consist of 14 bands of infantry, supported by 7 bands of cavalry and 14 guns. It has been many years since the Anwaak of Euxinus Lacus has felt the need (or had the money) to employ mercenaries with his army.

Army Quality: Poor
Army Size: 7

Though some of the soldiers are armed with smoothbore muskets, most of the troops still fight with swords, bows, and spears. While the majority of the infantry and cavalry bands are UV: T1, the Royal Bodyguards (Shields of Glory) is a UV: V2 warband, and are armed with 71 Pattern Mausers, as per the crew of the Flagship Anwaak's Wrath above.

Japanese Military Forces

Like the other minor colonial powers, the Japanese have assembled what amounts to a small brigade worth of troops on Mars. What is different however is that the Japanese have chosen to concentrate their military forces at Unebi Station, leaving only a single company of infantry to guard their Residency within Euxinus Lacus, as if indicating that whatever secrets exist at Unebi Station are more valuable than their hold on the city itself. The forces that guard Unebi Station are under the command of General Baron Masakuza Ichamura, and consist of:

Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:52:02 EDT

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