The Log of the Beowulf
New Berlin is one of the oldest of the Outer Colonies, initially settled by central European colonists not long after the invention of the AK drive and experiencing sustained immigration over the next century or so.
Slightly smaller than Earth, it possesses a large habitable region with extensive plateaus suitable for growing grain and other foods and a wide scattering of shallow seas capable of sustaining edible fish stocks. Low mountain ranges provide easy access to many of the raw materials needed by a growing civilisation.
Like many of the colony worlds prior to the War, the majority of agricultural and mining products were generated by indentured labourers working off the costs of their passage, but it had a reputation for a relatively easy lifestyle for the indentured. Large numbers of colonists were released from their contracts early and migrated to the rapidly-growing cities where a booming economy was rapidly established, profiting from the export of foodstuffs to Earth and several of the less fortunate colony worlds.
Boasting a strong democracy and a free market philosophy, New Berlin was one of the loudest voices in the independence movement and it was in its capital that the Alliance of Free Worlds was founded. Its burgeoning population provided a substantial portion of the manpower for the subsequent war and its industrial resources a similar proportion of the weapons they used.
Unfortunately, this meant that New Berlin would suffer the brunt of the wrath of the EPF when it finally arrived. After an initial period of chasing scattered blockade runners, Admiral Chen decided to try a different strategy: bringing half his fleet together in force at New Berlin, he threatened one of the most populous worlds directly. The Alliance reacted the only way they could, racing to the planet’s defence and, so doing, fell into Chen’s trap. Finally pinned in one place and forced into face-to-face battle, the rebel fleet was almost wiped out by the superior weaponry and training of the EPF.
Chen now followed up on his original threat and moved his capital ships into orbit around New Berlin itself. The colonists were given one planetary rotation’s notice to get out of the planet’s five primary cities, then the fleet launched nuclear space-to-surface missiles at those communities. Despite the warning, millions were killed, either refusing to leave (including the standing government), or unable to make it to (relative) safety in the chaos. Many millions more suffered from the after effects.
The members of the Alliance surrendered within a week.
New Berlin is a wreck: despite trillions of dollars poured into aid work, radiation sickness continues to claim countless lives and the world has become a laboratory for those studying the results of radiation injuries. The bombardment was not heavy enough to cause a nuclear winter, but much of the devastation took place in the agricultural areas, so the former colonial breadbasket now has to import food.
Chen was adamant that this was the only way to end the war and, despite an inquiry which is still going on, has never been formally criticised for his conduct.