Axton

Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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Though the world of Axton is home to Wangker Aerospace, one of the Federated Suns' few producers of aerospace fighters, the action on the world had not yet involved that factory. Having slipped through the Keilant Mountains and onto the Kel-Dan Plateau, Leftenant General Annette Leyland and her Fifth F-C were on the run from the overpowering Fifth Syrtis Fusiliers. Having already sustained heavy casualties in six months of hit-and-run fighting, General Leyland's troops were holding out for reinforcements from New Avalon. None were forthcoming however, though it took Leyland until June to real ize that. By then, Major General Robert Koenig had crossed the Keilants and was rabidly punishing the Fifth F-C.

In fact, the only assistance that Leyland seemed to get from New Avalon was a transmission that pinpointed the location of a secret AFFC weapons depot. Though she never could verify the origin of the transmission, it had gone out over the seal of the High Command, and she naturally assumed that someone in a high place was looking out for her. When her troops broke Into the depot, guarded as it was by a relatively small DMI contingent, she realized that the message could have only come from someone at the command level or"higher. Secured within the facility were fifty atomic weapons, plus a number of delivery systems, in addition to a large quantity of conventional munitions.

Unfortunately, Leyland knew that even these weapons were not enough to secure her a victory on Axton, at least without either receiving another brigade or two of reinforcements or laying waste to half of the world's population. Her rifth FC was rapidly being backed Into 'a corner, though. Nevertheless, Leyland kept the atomics In reserve, determined to use them only as a last resort.

Then General Koenig cut off two combat commands and a host of supporting troops from the rest of the Fifth F-C. With the lives of several thousand of her men hanging in the balance, Leyland felt she had few choices left. She authorized the arming of two weapons and delivered them via aerospace fighter on the 17th of June, utterly wiping out the Bell Cadre and a battalion of armor, plus a sizable contingent of Syrtis Fusiliers infantry. Stunned by Leyland's use of nuclear weapons, the Fusiliers backed off for the moment, allowing the Fifth F-C to reunite and continue their retreat.

The respite did not last long, however. Koenig and his troops were absolutely infuriated by Leyland's audacity and immediately launched an assault the likes of which had not been seen since Kerensky's liberation of Terra. Leyland was mere days away from Topell, Axton's capital and home of Wangker Aerospace, but the sudden onslaught by the Fifth Fusiliers threatened to break what remained of Leyland's RCT.

Pushed to the edge and with no chance to half the Fusuliers' mad assault, the Fifth FC's senior officers saw no other option than to use more of the atomics. Employed tactically, Leyland dropped half a dozen alone on the 6th of July, and a total of fourteen by the end of the next week. She had decimated the Fifth Fusiliers, but rather than remain on Axton to face the combined fury of Victor Steiner Davion's Allied forces, she raided the Wangker facilities, cleaning it of finished production models as well as weapons, components, engines and other spare parts, and made an escape from Axton. Leyland's Fifth F-C left the Axton system on 29 July.

Still on the world, Leftenant General Terrence Peter LaCasse was the last surviving senior officer of the Fifth Syrtis Fusiliers, commanding the three understrength combat commands that survived Leyland's nuclear assaults. He had neither the strength nor the will to try to pursue the Fifth F-C

had no and instead organized his shattered command as best as he could and assigned them to the task of cleanup on Axton. They did what they could until Duke Hasek ordered a dozen engineer battalions to the world to take over the cleanup operation, one that lasted for the better part of a year. KATHIL

Generals on both sides of the war were already calling Kathil "The Meatgrinder" by the end of the First Wave, yet Marshal of the Armies Jackson Davion and Field Marshal Ardan Sortek (as well as Duke George Hasek) continued to send units into the Kathil system. Quite simply, Kathil was just about the second most important world in the Federated Suns, one that neither side wanted to lose (or, more appropriately, was willing to let the other just have).

Though both sides had been fighting hard for over a year, the fact that the two sides were relatively equal in strength and experience prevented one side from dominating the fighting. In the first months of 3063, Marshal Nathaniel Hasek had managed to surround the Loyalist enclave in Woodland and separated the bulk of the surviving Eighth F-C from the Eighth Donegal Guards in and around Woodland. Haupt-mann General Mitchell Weintraub was used to operating on his own, though having stripped much of the command freedoms from his subordinates eariy in the fight for Kathil, his Eighth F-C was not as flexible as it used to be.

As Marshal Linda Archer continued to hit Weintraub's lines, using the First Capellan Dragoons as the point of her sword, Weintraub discovered just how much flexibility he truly had lost. His tactical commanders, no longer free to change oper ations mid-stride, lost opportunity after opportunity to punish the Fifth Davion Guards and, on the 23rd of March, actually lost cohesion during yet another thrust. Capellan Dragoons 'Mechs poured through the Eighth F-C's lines, followed quickly by the heavy armored tanks and mechanized infantry of the Fifth Guards. Having struck a weakened light cavalry battalion, the Allied troops immediately followed on with a nearly-unopposed attack into the Eighth F-C's rear-areas in the Birkshirc Forest. Only the recently rescued demi-brigade of infantry and unassigned armor crews stood between Marshal Archer and General Weintraub's command post, a unit that lasted all of two hours against the rapidly advancing Dragoons.

Before Weintraub's command post was overrun, he gave the order to converge upon his location to the rest of his RCT. The general went down quickly in his Nightstar once the Dragoons got within firing range, however. His order was received by the majority of his RCT, which rapidly converged and crushed the First Capellan Dragoons later that day, but the Dragoons went down only after giving as good as they took, leaving the door open for the rest of Archer's RCT to finally finish off the Eighth F-C.

While the Fifth Davion Guards were dealing with the bulk of the Eighth F-C in the Birkshire Forest, Major General Randy Hasek Bills held off the Eighth Donegal

Guards from the Fifth Guards' backs and Marshal Hasek continued his assault around Woodland, By the 30th of March, the Eighth F-C was effectively dead, with survivors either digging deeper Into the Birkshire or attempting to link up with the Eighth Donegal.

Marshal Hasek still had effectively five brigades of troops on-world, compared to Hauptmann General Pashik's two, though that force mix changed on the 22nd of July when Hauptmann General Helen Eisner entered the Kathil system with her Second Chisholm's Raiders and a naval assault squadron. Eisner's squadron of heavy assault DropShips made contact with Marshal Hasek's own defensive blockade on the 30th, but though outnumbered, they managed to punch a hole big enough for the bulk of Eisner's Raiders to make a break for the planet. Even the presence of the FCS Andrew Davion and the FCS Hanse Davion, both 4va/on-class crusiers (albeit still far from completion), wasn't enough to deter the suicidal assault. Six of the Raiders' DropShips were shot down and another one captured, but Eisner's naval assault squadron did what it needed to, though not a singe one of its ships made it past Hasek's blockade.

Suddenly faced with a new enemy force, Marshal Hasek scrambled to redeploy his forces to cover the expected landing zones. Hasek only half-expected her to make a drive on District City, but that was exactly what she did, grounding just outside of the city and pushing immediately for the GM plant. While Hasek's own Sixth Fusiliers moved to blunt the Raiders' assault, the Eisner's troops literally streamed around the Fusiliers, breaking into company sized units that outmaneuvered the Allied troops. Both sides

HELL IUCflRnflTE

What the hell have I done?

I had to weigh the cost of the death of my boys with the deaths I'd be responsible for. Did I not owe it to them to do everything in my power to prevent them from being killed? I had the power to end the battles with a minimum of deaths and suffering and I did just that. And I've got a responsibility to the Archon and the people of the Federated Commonwealth. Is it not my responsibility to end this war as quickly and bloodlessly as possible?

Maybe I'm just trying to justify it to myself. Shit.

How the hell did I get myself Into this? I've been a good officer. A good commander. I haven't rocked the boat and I haven't made any dumb-ass comments to the press. I've done what I've been told to do, but I haven't let my orders blind me to what should be done.

Except here.

But would I be having these problems if I just killed all those soldiers In a stand-up battle? War is what it is. We're here to kill the enemy. Just because I killed them with nukes I gotta feel this way? I've read the reports. I've seen the statistics. A battle between two 'Mech battalions causes more radioactive waste and more soil contamination than a modern atomic blast does.

I had no choice. I did the right thing. I have to believe that.

Not that the courts-martial will.

- Leftenant General Annette Leyland, personal journals, 23 June 3064

took heavy casualties, but Eisner took the GM plant intact and immediately began to work on District City.

While Eisner worked directly on Marshal Hasek, General Pashik broke out of Woodland, pushing past Marshal Archer's Fifth Davion Guards. For the rest of August, Pashik and Eisner fought hard to link up. both dogged by the two Allied marshals. Major General Hasek-Bills, still fielding the most mobile Allied troops on the planet, moved his rapidly shrinking brigade in between the two Loyalist forces, grabbing hold of Carter City, Green haven and Burlington before either Loyalist unit could. From there he held the two at bay for more than a month before his reinforced combat command in Greenhaven crum bled to massed artillery and missile fireā€”fire that leveled the city and killed thousands. On the 24th of September the two Loyalist RCTs linked up, and though surrounding Hasek-Bills' troops in Carter City and Burlington, chose to give up that battlefield and retire to District City.

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