Those who do not understand the troops under their command would do well to look to history for an example.

Take the Naval Battle of Fiayry, for example, fought between the revived Empire of Tellus and the Returner Coalition. The Tellurian Emperor, long thought dead, had reappeared some twenty years later and rebuilt his power base through a vicious program of industrial exploitation, slavery, and the impressment of troops. Thanks to his efforts, the Telluric Navy and Tellural Legion had regained their prewar strength, and stood ready to bring the Empire to its former dominant strength and size.

The Returner Coalition, meanwhile, had gathered every available fleet battleship and cruiser available into a ragtag fleet that suffered from a divided command structure and highly variable training. Though it was a match in numbers for the Telluric Navy, the Returner fleet was decidedly inferior in technology. The smart money was on the Empire of Tellus reborn.

Fiayry was the principal naval base of Tellus, a large and sheltered bay with narrow approaches. Lurking just out of gunnery range, the Returner Coalition fleet mustered at the Fiayry Roads offshore, seeking to engage the Tellurians on their own terms. The Emperor took their bait, not only ordering his fleet to attack, but also boarding his flagship to take personal command of the battle.

Clearly, he hoped to smash all resistance to his renewed rule at a stroke.

Instead, as it sailed through the Fiayry narrows, the Telluric Navy was wracked by widespread mutiny. Many of the ships crewed by slaves and impressed sailors from other nations turned on their officers, killing them and dumping the bodies overboard before running up makeshift Returner Coalition flags. Not every ship in the fleet was in open mutiny; some were crewed by old loyalists while others had captains that were able to maintain control. But in the end, it hardly mattered; the rebel ships turned their guns on their oppressors at point blank range and even those ships that remained loyal couldn’t count on their crews to perform well.

Seizing the opportunity, the Returner Coalition closed to point-blank range and joined with the rebel ships to batter the fleet into submission. At battle’s end, the entire fleet was destroyed–scuttled, sunk, or captured. The Tellurian Emperor took his own life as mutinous sailors broke down the door to his stateroom, and his broken body was hung from a lamppost in Fiayry Square before being burned and scattered.

The moral of the story? Cruelty can only take one so far.

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