(OORP: I know Alingarch is no more, I just wanted to wrap up this storyline given its relevance. And yes, they gave me permission to post this)
With the Mother Rosette bound for the ocean floor, the Kuni would simply leave the remaining Alingarchi to their fates, unable to afford the time to either pick them off or rescue them. Instead, they turned and left, chugging ahead to rendezvous with the second fleet.
Proud as they were, the Kuni had seen the writing on the wall; they knew it was only a matter of time before Alingarchi reinforcements arrived and finished what the aircraft could not. Though Kuni ships may be waiting in the wings, there was no doubt in their minds that their fate would be the same as the others. They'd be bombed to oblivion. So, they retreated.
Hours later, they reached the other fleet, reuniting with the subs that had previously peeled off. Information was exchanged, a badly damaged submarine scuttled, and they returned to Antekuna, anticipating the enemy every step of the way.
But the enemy never came.
Though they had no way of knowing, a great calamity had struck Alingarch. Across the vast and lifeless Akatama, in the far west of the great Akjanan continent, their neighbor had suffered a collapse as cataclysmic as it was sudden. In the chaos, through unknown means, Alingarchi forces en route to deal with the Kuni vanished. Their way to Antekuna lay clear, and some time later, they would reach home shores.
The Battle of Splinters was an engagement anticipated but unexpected. Two fleets, from two states; the Kuni Federation and Hwokān, had set out across the Akschoss Ocean with a mission in mind; to reinstate the Loyalist government as the sole rulers of Antenesia. In doing so, they would restore the islands to their rightful place as part of the nation and order of Antekuna. The reasoning for this was simple; the Kuni had never recognized the secession as legitimate, and the increasingly radical actions of the tiny republic threatened to unravel Kuni isolation and throw the future of Antekuna in jeopardy.
Suspecting, but not knowing, Antenesia would seek foreign military backing, the fleet of the Kuni Federation, which would have arrived in Antenesia days before the Hwokāni, hung back, letting their bitter rivals take the lead. Sure enough, the odd gambit played off when the Hwokāni came into contact with the Alingarchi, after which they were promptly massacred.
Understanding the sinking of the Federati fleet - numerically superior to their own - would leave Kuni shores undefended against Odrelan invasion, the Hwokāni made a remarkably out of character decision. Instead of letting their enemy cripple their own fleet, which would have evened the field navally in the ongoing Kuni Wars, they informed the Federati of their impending doom. Though no one knew it yet, this move of idealistic comradery would have profound and sweeping consequences.
For the time being though, the scourged Hwokāni subs and their Federati escort headed home. As they did, a dreadful thought plagued them. As unsightly as their fate upon their return was, Antekuna's may be darker. Proved to Antekuna - perhaps even Kalrania - was an inescapable fact; everything in Antekuna was now obsolete. The weapons, arms, tech, tactics, everything, it was done. Old, defunct, to be tossed aside. For the first time in their existence, a Kuni had branded into them the meaning of airpower, and without it, Antekuna would crumble at the faintest tap from the Odrelans.
But maybe not the subs.
As notable as the resounding failure of the ironclads was the astounding success of the submarines. Save some sinking to the mines, they had performed admirably in the battle, even sinking the Mother Rosette. From this point on, two principles would dominate Kuni military doctrine - aircraft and subs. Their offense, their defense, their grandest strategy and most laser-focused tactics, all of it would consider these lessens impaled into them by this oh-so-traumatic Battle of Splinters.
So, the Kuni lick their wounds, and again vanish from the Kalranian stage.
...If only for a moment.