Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 422
Time passed quite quickly for Claude and half a year flew by just like that. It was now Year 592. Claude remained in Port Cobius the whole time as he watched the filled ships carry the nikancha up north along the shores.
"Zakralin, how many more nikancha tribes are unwilling to leave?" Claude asked as he watched the nikancha crowd gather in the outer city.
Zakralin was dressed like a standard gentleman. He no longer looked like a haggard old man. He took out a document from a folder and flipped through it. "General, there are around a million nikancha who aren't willing to leave. They live in tribes near the borders where occupying territory is more convenient. They have more than enough resources to afford them a rather decent standard of living.
"According to our investigations, the main reason they don't wish to leave is that they will be taken in as vassal tribes if they migrate to the nikancha nation. The elders from those tribes are the ones who oppose the migration the most. The normal nikancha folk, on the other hand, hope they can finally move to a nation they can call their own."
Claude nodded. It was already a pleasant surprise for more than two million of them to be willing to move. During the past five months, they had ferried away approximately a million nikancha to the north. They were the ones who lived near towns or small settlements working all sorts of jobs and were the most receptive to migrating.
As intercontinental trade with the mainland had ceased, the nikancha folk that lived near the towns had a hard time making a living. So, when the nikancha ambassadors said that they had now founded their own nation and told them he hoped they would move there and their tribes would be guaranteed their own territory, the minor tribes immediately packed up and headed north.
The second batch of nikancha who were willing to move were the ones occupying poor territory in the wilderness. They didn't really mind becoming vassal tribes to the major tribes so long as their own territory's sovereignty would be guaranteed. They didn't live good lives in the colonies anyway and would often be raided by the local garrisons. Some nikancha tribes even got into conflict with other tribes over fishing or hunting zone disputes.
The last group of nikancha unwilling to leave according to Zakralin were the ones with territories far away from the central administrative zones of the colonies. They live near the borders, not the ones between colonies, but the ones between the colonies and the inland. For instance, one such border was the Obumuk Mountains, which separated Tyrrsim from the inland. The nikancha loved to live at the foot of the mountains there.
Back then, the nikancha tribes the local garrisons hated to raid were those living in the fringes of the colonies. They would spend three to four days travelling there only to have the nikancha escape into the mountains long before they arrived. It mostly ended in wasted trips. Eventually, the tribes there grew stronger and stronger.
The tribes near the central areas usually had fewer than five thousand members. The environment and garrison forces' raids greatly limited their development. However, the largest of the fringe tribes could have more than ten thousand members and up to five vassal tribes. Their total number could go up to 30 or 40 thousand, and they could mobilise at least five thousand youth forces. So, the elders and chiefs of those tribes were quite satisfied with life there and weren't willing to move north to become vassal tribes of the major tribes and give up their autonomy.
Zakralin was rather capable. Claude had instructed him to tend to the nikancha ambassadors and they were rather happy with his services. During the past half a year, he had also travelled across the three colonies to survey the nikancha tribes, secretly noting down their locations, numbers, resources and everything else.
When the ambassadors weren't able to convince the tribes to move, he even hinted that they could borrow the theatre's local forces to force them to evict for a small fee. Had it not been for a few clear-headed ambassadors who stopped the others from going through with it, the angered and humiliated ambassadors who were refused might've gone through with Zakralin's suggestion.
Though, even if they hadn't come to a deal, Claude would use force to evict them nevertheless. He wasn't willing to let the nikancha tribes remain in those three colonies. They were potentially destabilising elements in the theatre and had to be uprooted completely. At the same time, he had to ensure the regulations concerning the nikancha could be implemented properly. Only then could the three colonies truly be the territory of the Aueran settlers.
However, Claude didn't have enough troops for now. In each colony, he only had a light-cavalry line stationed. Apart from the various local forces in the towns, most other troops were caught up monitoring the nikancha as they travelled to Port Cobius for the migration. While they had to ferry the nikancha northwards nonstop for the past three to four months, there was still a large crowd of them coming to Port Cobius nonstop, which brought quite a lot of pressure to Claude and Skri.
Claude was more concerned about safety and maintaining order. He wanted to ensure the million nikancha in the outer city of Port Cobius didn't cause any trouble as they waited for the ships to return. Skri, on the other hand, would handle the supplies the million nikancha consumed as per the deal with the nikancha ambassadors. They had paid the theatre lots of ores and precious metals for the fee of the migration, after all.
In the 2nd month of Year 592, Birkin finally came to Port Cobius with the six garrison lines and one of Monolith's combat lines. The reason it took so long was Bolonik and Birkin had to transfer most of the veteran soldiers in Monolith to the new garrison lines in Lanu before the 50 thousand newly trained recruits from Balingana and Cromwell joined Monolith. They had to ensure they were up to a certain fighting standard before they could start heading for Tyrrsim.
The six lines of garrison troops were all veterans from Monolith. Each of the new colonies would be stationed with two such lines, one in the capital and the rest split up and spread out over the rest of the colony. Usually, one tribe was enough to defend a town, so one line could be split into five to defend five important towns. Basically, the whole colony could be kept safe.
Port Cobius required two lines, one each to keep the inner and outer city safe. The newly formed Monolith combat line would be stationed near the docks to face off threats from the sea.
But even with so many new forces, Claude wasn't in a rush to split up the remaining garrison lines across the colonies. Instead, he was gearing up for a forced eviction of nikancha tribes located between the colonies and the inland in what he called a purge.
There wasn't anything too eye catching about the operation. He would only be sending three of Thundercrash's light-cavalry lines to set up a defence line around Obumuk Mountains before the nikancha were prepared to stop them from escaping into the mountains. After that, Claude and Birkin would lead three garrison lines and Monolith's combat line on an assault to clear out all nikancha tribes spanning the three colonies from north to east.
Spilling blood was inevitable during the purge. More than ten nikancha tribes decided to resist, but their young forces fell like targets before Aueran firearms. While they fought with a rabid frenzy, they weren't able to bring much harm to their attackers. The brave nikancha fighters were armed with nothing but their spears, blades, and hunting bows as they defended their homes, only to be shot dead one after another.
Some nikancha tribes decided to retreat into Obumuk Mountains, only to fall into the entrapment of Thundercrash. While few young men could escape into the mountains, their family members might not be able to fare as well. When they were discovered, they were captured and sent away. Those that tried to resist would be suppressed and crushed.
All the tribe elders and chiefs of those that bothered to resist were hanged from trees. After all the goods were cleared from their settlements, Claude ordered for them to be burned down. The nikancha cried as they left with what little they had. Some carried their children away as they marched towards Port Cobius.
"I think it's a little excessive to treat the nikancha like that. These are their ancestral lands, after all," Birkin said as he watched the forcefully evicted nikancha sympathetically. "Letting them stay behind if they aren't willing to leave won't be much trouble. The colonies are large enough to retain them. I think it's fine for them to stay so long as they're willing to follow our laws and obey our policies."
Claude sighed and shook his head. "I don't think so. I don't wish to give orders like these either, but we have no choice but to do this to save our descendants trouble. I'll bloody my hands if that's why it takes. Do you know why I call this forced eviction a purge? I want to leave a clean colony for the settlers from our kingdom.
"As times advance, society will grow more and more civilised. Currently, we are still in a time of strife and war and the ones with the biggest guns are the just ones. Might is right. These lands are merely our colonies and not our homeland, and we are indeed the ones who robbed the nikancha and the eitat of their rightful places.
"If another century passes, nikancha society would've developed to a similar level as our kingdom's settlers. By then, we would've put down our guns to start using the law to mediate our disputes with them. If there are still traces of the nikancha in our territories, they'll be the biggest problems our descendants will have to deal with.
"The nikancha descendants will cite the colonies being their ancestral lands as the reason to demand our descendants for the lands back. If they won't give the lands, they'll want reparations and more aid to freeload off what we have built. If one million nikancha are left here, their population will grow to a few million a century later. I don't want our descendants to have to feed a few million entitled freeloaders. We might as well purge them from our colonies."
Birkin seemed rather taken aback. He wanted to reach out to touch Claude's head to see if he was having a fever or something for him to say something so far fetched.
"I don't believe a word of that. Something like that won't happen a century later. The colonies will always be ruled by our theatre and the kingdom. I doubt the foolish nikancha will develop to be our equals. If they want to take their lands back, they'll have to ask our descendants' guns for permission.
"Then again, regardless of what happens, forcing them to leave the colonies would be good for us. At least, the townsfolk living near the fringes would lead much safer lives. Perhaps we should bring in another batch of settlers from the mainland. There's still a lot of land to accommodate Auerans."
Claude didn't bother to say any more. He knew that given Birkin's experiences, there was no way he would be able to imagine a future a couple centuries ahead. This world was a little similar to the history of old Earth. Just because a few people monopolised technology and guns and delayed the march of history, that didn't completely stop it. The wheel of time would turn nevertheless.
The western settlers of the Age of Sail on old Earth would never imagine their descendants to be such saints that they would seek to appease the very people they had raided and robbed from to atone for the sins of their ancestors. Some of the oppressed, on the other hand, even went so far to become the oppressors.
Claude was no racist, nor was he against universal human rights. He merely had enough insight to be willing to go through the trouble now rather than leave it for later generations, considering the matter from a solely pragmatic perspective. Not to mention, using force to get them to leave was still far better than massacring them to wipe out from the colonies. After the nikancha have all migrated, the three colonies would truly belong to the descendants of the Aueran settlers decades later.
"By the way, are we really going to go through with the nikancha management regulations in the three colonies?" Birkin asked as he turned his mount around.
The regulations stipulated that the nikancha would no longer be allowed to establish tribal settlements in the colonies. Additionally, Auerans hiring the nikancha had to be held accountable as their sponsors and take care of their head tax of one riyas per person. It was ten times higher than the head tax for an Aueran settler.
Additionally, the labour agreements struck between an Aueran and a nikancha would have to fall under the purview of the administration. A deposit would have to be paid to the managing department. Once the job was done, the department would send someone to check on the work, following which the employer would have to pay the agreed-upon payment in full without holding any back no matter the excuse.
They were all geared to make it troublesome for Auerans to hire the nikancha and cause them to give up on the notion to decrease the number of them that stayed in the colonies. After all, the settlers in these colonies were rather unique in that they enjoyed the lives of big bosses despite being only peasants. They would often hire nikancha to work for them and only give them a small part of the proceeds.
They would work them like beasts of burden. Farm owners, for instance, would often hire nikancha workers to work the fields while they merely supervised with their whips in hand. Once the job was done, they would often tear labour agreements with the excuse that the nikancha didn't do well enough or spoiled their farming tools and pay them only half of their salary or less. That was part of the reason the nikancha often staged revolts.
Claude nodded. Birkin smiled and said, "I'm sure the regulations can easily be passed in these three colonies, but you'll have to talk it over with the mining association in Anfiston. They'll be sure to oppose them."