The Barnard Incident

By 2110 AD the Terrans had established a substantial presence on Barnard,exploiting the rich mineral deposits and building what was to become animportant colony. Naturally Sharurshid (the Vilani corporate Bureau responsiblefor the rimward provinces) viewed this as a clear violation of their commercialrights. Matters were not helped by the fact that the Terran’s advancedbiological technologies made their operations far more efficient. Overthe first decade of the 22nd century tensions between the Terrans and theVilani over Barnard had been gradually increasing. To the Vilani, it wasintolerable that these minor races from Kheraa (Terra) should blatantlyinfringe on their commercial interests; to the Terrans the shear size andpower of the Ziru Sirka bred fear and resentment.

Against this background the hawks amongst Earth’s nations built up theirmilitary strength on Barnard; whilst cooler heads amongst the Terrans attemptedto negotiate an understanding. These negotiations turned out to be doomedfrom the start. Not only did each of the major Terran power blocs demandan independent voice in the negotiations; the Terrans just could not understandwhy the local Vilani negotiators constantly had to refer every single pointto their superiors. To the Terrans, it appeared that the Vilani were deliberatelyobstructing negotiations. Nor could the Vilani understand the Terrans impatience;to them it appeared that the Terrans were just using them as a diversionwhile they took over Barnard by a fait accompli.

As both the Vilani and the Terrans reinforced their military presencearound Barnard, tensions grew, tempers shortened and “incidents” increasedin frequency. In 2110 AD a Sharurshid merchant convoy strayed into Terranairspace; in itself nothing too serious, this sort of incident had occurredcountless times before. However this time was slightly different. Fourweeks previously an armed Vilani merchant had fired warning shots at aTerran patrolship in a disputed zone and the previous patrolships drawnfrom the European Union had just been rotated out in for those of the WesternLeague (the most hawkish of Earth’s power blocs at that time). Thus whenthe Vilani merchant failed to respond correctly to the UNSCA traffic controlthe Western League patrolship Canberra firedseveral warning shots in an attempt to force the convoy to land in Terrancontrolled territory. The convoy returned fire and attempted to flee asthe Canberra gave pursuit. At this point a Sharurshid GadniType 56m escort arrived on the scene and opened fire on the Canberra.A brief running battle ensued which resulted in the destruction of theescort. During the final stages of this skirmish, the Vilani ground defenceshad engaged and damaged the Canberra. As a result of this the local WesternLeague commander determined to neutralise the Vilani outpost on Barnardwith a rapid ground assault. This failed, both sides reinforced their positionsand the First Interstellar War had begun.

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