Stories of the Massacre at Wolsae have taken on a life of their own in almost every corner of human-occupied space, largely because the combatants were drawn from throughout the East Rim Consortium and the [Kingdom of Atholl]?, and the diverse crews of the [Spacers Federated Guild]?. The event was highly popularized by the Atholian media during the last two phases of the Orbital wars. It still forms a common theme in most forms of entertainment in that Kingdom, but stories of the Massacre can be found in most systems, albeit often in much-distorted versions that have little in common with historically reliable sources.
The truth is that the Massacre of Wolsae was likely one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. The main battle fleet of the Consortium had just returned from the highly successful [Yggdrasil Campaign]? against its former Union? allies. Low on supplies and with many damaged ships docked at the extensive shipyards on Wolsae's moons, it was completely unprepared for the attacking force.
There is little consensus on how the massed Atholian guerrillas were able to time their attack so perfectly. The invasion was a near-miraculous tactical success. The invading fleet actually consisted of at least 15 known major sub-fleets launching from separate systems, supported by a fleet of Spacers Federated Guild warships, all crossing Benthic Space. Seven of these sub-fleets are known to have arrived within the first few hours of the conflict, with most others following within cycles. While Atholian accounts variously attribute this timing to divine intervention or Church operatives within the Consortium fleet, most non-Atholian historians claim it was simple luck. The fact that the outdated military and converted civilian ships of the Atholian fleets were fitted for planetary landing and hostile docking and totally unequipped for fleet actions would appear to indicate that the intended targets were the shipyards and planetary facilities, and not the fleet itself.
Against a prepared Consortium fleet, the attack would likely have been a disaster. Against the unprepared fleet, the attackers were able to bring into play their greatest asset; Faith of the Kingdom zealots, inflamed by years of propaganda and armed to the teeth, filling every ship. The initial hours of the conflict were marked by a fleet battle, with the Guild ships engaging the few supplied and operational ERC picket ships. With the operational defenders drawn away, the rest of the invaders were able to approach almost completely unchallenged. If they had originally planned only to assault the planet and shipyards, these plans were quickly changed. About half of the attacking ships spread out to engage the fleet ships, docking and boarding in most cases, but also ramming the few ships that attempted to escape. What followed were two Woolsaen years of bloody combat, ship-to-ship, throughout the shipyards, and in all of the major planetary settlements. It's estimated that at least 3.5 million combatants were involved, between the two fleets and the civilian populace. The massive Consortium supply stores were decimated early in the fighting, and munitions were largely depleted by the end of the first year. The last year of fighting made famous the [Yonic blade]? of the ERC Marines, which became a common weapon used by all combatants, especially in the deck-to-deck and compartment-to-compartment fighting that raged throughout the shipyards and capital ships. By the time Consortium reinforcements arrived, and the remaining Atholian invaders fled in a handful of salvaged vessels, it is estimated that fewer than 300,000 combatants were left on either side.
The decimation of the main Consortium fleet marked the end of expansionist aspirations by the fragile Consortium. Peace movements throughout the Consortium were fueled when lists of the dead and missing began arriving, followed soon after by the stories of Wolsae veterans. Despite the success of the [Yggdrasil Campaign]?, there was little appetite left for fighting. With many planets, especially the Kingdoms, withdrawing from active participation, the Consortium withdrew into itself, regressing into a state reminiscent of the years of the Copyright Dispute, and became the first major faction to withdraw from the Orbital Wars.