Up Against the Night

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Next we come to the issue of indirect fires. But the allies placed their batteries of trebuchets all along the lines, between the cav squadron and the infantry units.

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After a single initial barrage in support of the cav attack, they abandoned those mass-casualty producing weapons entirely. Had the batteries been positioned behind the anti-personnel ditch that protected the castle, they could have continued to execute both explosive and illumination fire missions. Speaking of which: The company deployed both heavy and light infantry, with their leadership in the front. This single line could merely slow the wave of enemy troops, while ensuring that allied leadership would be overwhelmed along with them.

Forming their lines behind some protective obstacles would have ensured a longer defense. Behind the infantry, the rear guard of the Unsullied ensured a defense in depth. And behind them, an anti-personnel ditch with chevaux de frise —anticavalry spikes—served as a protective obstacle before the outer wall of Winterfell. But placing this obstacle between the main body and the stronghold meant that a retreat would have to go through it, causing a choke point. After the ditch came the walls, then the courtyard—filled with situational obstacles—protecting the inner courtyard and the crypt.

Women and children had been moved to the crypt, in the mistaken belief that this area would be safe. While enjoying a two-to-one superiority in air assets, Daenerys attempts to use her dragons as multirole platforms, a risky move that means her forces cannot maximize their firepower on one single mission.

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This will eventually translate to ground commanders being denied close air support when they need it most. Both Daenerys and Jon Snow fly initial sorties over allied lines, but neither attempts to conduct reconnaissance of enemy lines. Nor do they attempt to initiate first strike capabilities against the forces of the Night King. Both loiter over the area for far too long before becoming directly engaged. Soon enough, the White Walkers initiate a whiteout, forcing both dragons to disengage.

Failure to properly establish friendly dragon-marking measures almost causes a green-on-green incident. Perhaps painting alternating white and black stripes on the wings—as the Allies did before D-Day in WWII—would have mitigated this confusion. With intelligence failures, indirect capabilities lost, and the dragons experiencing white air, the full brunt of the attack now falls on the dismounted infantry.

The undead quickly breach the first line of defense, then slam into the Unsullied, who fight a rear guard action to allow a rear passage of lines for the surviving infantry to attempt to flee to safety within the castle walls. At this point in the action, the ground fight is so obscured by bad weather that the fire-breathing air support cannot see the signal from the walls to ignite the anti-personnel ditch. With their primary plan unsuccessful, the allies move to their alternate plan of firing flaming arrows, which fails, and their contingency plan of runners, which also fails.

As a last-ditch emergency effort, witch lady Melisandre finally activates the fire. The lit ditches succeed in marking the lines for a dragon sortie, which incinerates undead along the entire perimeter.

Finally, the allies have established an obstacle between themselves and the undead. However, an effective obstacle needs overwatch with direct and indirect fires. Although archers man the walls with direct overwatch of the fire-ditch, neither they nor the dragons engage the unmoving undead. This is a clear missed opportunity. Only upon initiation of a successful breach do the defenders attempt to suppress the force.

By then it is too late, and the assault force strikes the walls. Sheer numbers, as well as one devastating sortie by the Night King and his dragon, are sufficient to breach the wall. The undead offensive now reaches the castle courtyard, where individuals or small groups conduct military operations in castle terrain, or MOCT.

At this point in the operation, all tactics and strategy go out the window: it's every woman and man for themselves. Lady Lyanna Mormont neutralizes one enemy giant with a targeted strike on its ocular network, but falls in the attack herself.

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In the skies, a dogfight—well, dragonfight—ensues, with the Night King making the unconventional choice to attack from below. The maneuver throws the friendly air force into confusion, and ultimately both Jon Snow and the Night King are forced to eject. With the Night King grounded, Daenerys rightly attempts a close air support strike against him. However, the battle damage assessment reveals that the strike was ineffective.

Alvin takes the message to Rorden, the Keeper of the Records, who has access to "all the knowledge of Humanity. Three years later, Rorden discloses that not only has he been waiting for Alvin to age, but he has also been trying to find out how people in the past went outside. He and Alvin find a way out and Alvin finds a destination called Lys. Expecting an abandoned city, Alvin is shocked when he finds a thriving place.

The inhabitants are different from his own people, living short but full lives and having telepathic abilities. They know about Diaspar but they like their natural setting.

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Alvin is prevented from going home as the citizens do not want him to reveal Lys to the people of Diaspar. They contact Rorden, who already knew of Lys, and tell him that Alvin will stay three days to allow the council of Lys time to decide his fate. Alvin makes a friend called Theon, who has a pet giant insect named Krif. While Theon shows Alvin the woods, the boys realize they both know about the legend of Shalmirane, a fortress mentioned in the earliest human history; a fortress which defended against the invaders and signified the end of Man's conquest of space.

The boys decide to find the fortress, only a day's travel away.

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At the fortress they discover that a large wall that defended the building survived, though its rocks were destroyed over time. When they venture into the fortress they find an old man with whom they share a meal and a story of his origins; he was a follower of the Master. This Master came from space during the recovery following the invasion, attracting followers with his powers and machines. When he was dying, he spoke of the "Great Ones" returning. His followers made this into a religion. The religion has been dying, and the old man is one of the few remaining followers; he also has a few of the Master's machines.

Alvin asks to borrow one of the old man's robots so he can bring it to Rorden. The boys return to Lys, and Alvin is told to either stay in Lys forever, or return to Diaspar without his memories. Alvin agrees to the mind wipe, but programs the robot to grab him before his mind is wiped and take him to the transit station. He returns home, where he finds Rorden, and they look under the city, where robots are made and repaired by other robots.

A repair robot tells them it cannot fix Alvin's robot, but duplicates it. The council questions Alvin and threatens to seal the path to Lys. Alvin shows Rorden a ship, buried under the sands outside the city, that was the Master's ship.

As the world gets louder, we combat sound with more sound, searching for an illusion of control.

Alvin decides to take the ship and go to Lys to return the robot. Lys realizes that through the appearance of the ship, both of their cultures will be forced to interact. Alvin travels to Shalmirane to return the robot, only to find the Old Man dead, with his robots left to forever guard him. Alvin takes his ship into space, towards an abnormal set of stars. He arrives at the middle star and meets an alien being that is no more than a child but has memories going back further than any human. The alien being, Vanamonde, is convinced that Alvin is the creator it has been waiting for.

It follows Alvin home, where people from Lys and Diaspar meet to study it, each using their strengths to learn more about their history. They learn that the history they have known is false. Man only reached Persephone when space came to them, and they found species far greater than Man.

They learned from them and decided to grow themselves as humanity before exploring space. They spent half a billion years perfecting the ability to live for infinite amount of time, like Diaspar, or with telepathic abilities, like those in Lys. After improving themselves, they tried to create a pure mentality, a being that was free from physical limitations. They succeeded in creating a pure being, but it was insane. The mentality, called the Mad Mind, almost destroyed the galaxy, and is now locked up, waiting for the time when its bonds break again.

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