Catherine's Quick Little War Catherine the Great, the first Czarina, loathed the Egyptians. For over 300 years her ancestors had warred against them. For over 300 years Russian parents had told their children that Europeans were ice-blooded devils. But because since 190 ad they held the vital Levant--and thus controlled the sea and trade route that connected an entire hemisphere--two generations of Russians had been forced to accept their military and political dominance. Catherine saw a different possibility. War had made her people great in the past, and war would redeem them again. In 249 ad, just three years after ascending to the throne, the Czarina ordered her troops to occupy disputed lands along the Suez coast. But to one brave unit of horsemen, she sent secret orders, a "suicide reconnaissance" deep into the Sinai, to scout out just how large the Egyptian forces were. The captain of the horsemen reported back that the enemy were strong, but not invincible. Sadly, his troop paid for this intelligence with their lives. And with this retaliation, the Third Egyptian War began. The Battle of the Suez went poorly at first, with the brave Russian swordsmen driven from the disputed territory. An expected alliance with the Iroquois fizzled out as the southern tribesmen faltered in the face of Egyptian might. Russia would stand alone. The Egyptian general, Lord Takerekhonshu of Alexandria, abandoned his foot soldiers in the north and confidently pushed his charioteers toward Ravenna. But of course the Russians were experienced in defending this critical Nile city. A troop of swordsmen ambushed the Egyptians at Big Bend and took revenge for their humiliation at Suez. Russian commanders were surprised to find that Lord Takerekhonshu was not among the captured chariotmen. The drive to Ravenna had been a feint. Probably Takerekhonshu had intended to use his chariots to draw the Russian forces away from the main line of march, spreading out the swordsmen in more defensive positions. But Takerekhonshu underestimated the size of the Russian army, which was comprised of ten battalions of swordsmen. His chariots were lost and Russian forces were now free to march north to the Levant. Catherine fell ill and died before her troops could complete what she called "The Great Drive North." However Russian swordsmen were able to reclaim the Suez coast and fortify it with the largest army known up to then in history. The Egyptians fortified their possessions in the Levant, preparing to repulse any Slavic incursions. But in the sincerest compliment to Catherine's military planning, Lord Takerekhonshu began to steal Russian military tactics and deploy more reliable swordsmen to defend Egypt's empire. The day of the chariot was over. But darker challenges awaited.