Free 5kye Revolt

The sixth wave of the Civil War saw the revolt in Skye continue and take a series of interesting twists. Though still imprisoned, Duke Robert directed his forces to continue plans to secure the Isle of Skye politically, militarily and economically. This meant employing resources initially allocated to securing other objectives to the battles on Freedom and Hesperus, worlds that the rebellion had to win to be sure of success. However, the Loyalists did not simply sit by and let the Armed Forces of Skye have everything their own way ...

Freedom

The arrival of Maria Esteban and her cohorts on Freedom signaled the end of the Fifth Lyran Regulars' hopes of victory against the rebels. The General's reputation as the leader of the Eleventh Arcturan Guard—the unit she had left on Tikonov—preceded her, as did her accomplishments in the campaign against Prince Victor. Though her troops added little in the way of numbers to the Free Skye force on Freedom, their experience was invaluable, stiffening the resolve of the militia units. Their attacks against the Fifth Lyran Regulars became increasingly bold and aggressive, placing the Loyalist unit under considerable pressure. As food and supply shortages began to bite, the planetary militia began to crumble, its members seeking to escape the siege of Jefferson City and return to their homes. Esteban let them, knowing that each defection was a victory for Free Skye that cost neither ammunition nor her own troops.

On 7 February 3066, Margrave Ellis sent a short communiqué to the general, proposing a cease-fire and negotiations. Esteban refused and, realizing the Regulars were on the brink of folding, instead launched a concerted attack on Jefferson City. Her hunch proved correct and despite a valiant attempt to hold back the Alexandria FTM. the Fifth Regulars' positions were quickly overrun. Esteban's special forces teams immediately invested the planetary command center, capturing the Margrave and his staff. On 9 February, the general declared Freedom firmly in Free Skye hands. Leaving the two FTM units in place to rebuild and complete the disarmament of the Loyalists. Esteban took ship for the next hotspot in Skye, Hesperus.

Hesperus

Although the initial Free Skye assault destroyed the Gray Death Legion. Loyalist troops retained control of the Defiance complex, strategic factories that the latter seemingly returned from the grave after an alleged suicide. Fortunately for the common people of the alliance, another group existed to counter Loki's excesses, the secret fellowship known as Heimdall.

Regarding themselves as a 'loyal opposition,' Heimdall believed that the best interests of the Archon were not always the best interests of the state or its people. They existed to curb excesses, and when LoJ<i began their terror campaign Heimdall moved—a$ they had done 65 years earlier—to block them.

Katherine's actions had already predisposed many in'HeimdaINo Victor's cause-indeed, at least one of the Prince's close confidants was a powerful member of the organization—but many remained unconvinced of the need to act against the Archon, despite her usurpation of the Federated Suns' throne. The assassinations and bombings were the last straw, and throughout the Alliance Heimdall cells armed themselves and stalked—and often intercepted—Loki teams as they sought to harass the people of the Alliance. From Poulsbo to New Exford the groups struck at each other, the harassment campaign replaced by a shadow conflict between the two groups. Loki had the advantage of equipment and training, but Heimdall had the advantage in numbers and In the sheer reach of their organization.

By 3065, Loki was on the defensive, its campaigns against domestic targets largely ended. Heimdall did not press the issue—Loki was still part of the Alliance government, even if a rather unsavory part—and settled for keeping a close watch on the terrorist cells. From early 3065, Heimdall had been in active contact with Victor and served as his unofficial spy network in the Alliance, and had likewise undertaken counter-espionage missions against LIC operatives.

However, for all Heimdall's claims of loyalty to the Alliance and avoidance of extreme measures, rumors persist of terrorist-style attacks on Loyalist targets in both the Alliance and the Federated Suns. Indeed, some reports place a Heimdall team on Tharkad tasked with neutralizing General Nondl Steiner should they have been ordered to do so. No evidence has emerged to support these accusations, but together with accusations that Heimdall betrayed its principals by supporting Prince Victor against his sister, these have tarnished the organization's reputation among some of those who know of its existence.

Free Skye had to seize to be able to make good their losses and ensure the survival of their independent state. The Fourth and Seventeenth Skye Rangers formed the main Free Skye forces on planet, but both were badly mauled. The other rebel unit on world was the Thirty-second Lyran Guards, but after the capture of their command staff by the GDL, the Guard was wracked by dissent and locked in its own internal struggles. Free Skye lacked the resources to complete their conquest of Hesperus, but neither did the Loyalists have the troops to drive them off world.

John Dundee assigned the newly defected Fourteenth - Lyran Guards to lead a head a new offensive on Hesperus, to be commanded when she was free of her commitments on Freedom—by Maria Esteban. The Fourteenth met little resistance on their run in system, landing on 3 March, but perceiving the defenders as disorganized, Leutnant-General Kat Porter chose to stage an Immediate offensive without waiting for Esteban and her troops. Directing her efforts at the Maldon mining complex guarded by Fourteenth's sister unit, the Thirty-sixth Lyran Guards, Porter exploited her command's heavy firepower to pressure Peter Zambos' unit, inflicting grievous casualties and forcing the Loyalists to abandon the plant after ten days of fighting.

Unfortunately, the Fourteenth did riot escape the carnage, suffering considerable casualties at the hands of the Air Surfers' heavy armor and a valiant counter-offensive led by Colonel Keane Sortek, nephew Field Marshal Ardan Sortek. The Fourteenth's arrival and success at Maldon goaded the other Free Skye units into action. The Rangers inflicted yet more damage on the Fifteenth Guard and the DSPF but were unable to break through the Defiance complex's fortifications. Worse was to come for Free Skye.

Realizing the situation on Hesperus was hopeless without the element of surprise, Leutnant-General William Harrison von Frisch decided that the lives of his troops were more important than vainglorious attempts to seize a mountain-fortress that had never succumbed in all the years of the Succession Wars, even when assaulted by much larger and better equipped forces. On 11 April, as Maria Esteban was burning in system, he announced his intention to withdraw the Fourth Rangers from the conflict though he did not at that point foreswear Free Skye. Gy the time Esteban grounded, the most competent Free Skye unit on Hesperus had withdrawn and there was little she could do to improve the situation. Pulling back from the Defiance complex, and calling the Fourteenth in from Maldon. she spent the rest of April and May in a vain attempt to Strengthen the Free Skye position.

Skye

As Maria Esteban hit Hesperus, her old subordinate Linda McDonald led the tleventh Arcturan Guard and thé AlarlOrl Jaegers against Skye. Having learned the Skye Jaeger's strengths and dispositions from the Eleventh Lyran Regulars' raid, the task force had little problem grounding on the rebel lion's capital world on 13 May and quickly set about reducing the planetary militia and the Skye Jaegers. Though battle hardened by their experiences against the Eleventh Regulars the previous summer and on Ko in 3062, the Free Skye regiment was a poor match for the now-legendary Eleventh Arcturan RCT. The Jaegers abandoned New Glasgow, leaving the city's defense in the hands of well armed patriotic citizens, instead opting for a mobile defense, at first limited to the Macintosh Valley and later ranging out across the whole of New Scotland.

General Dundee, leading the defense personally, sent recall orders to' the Free Skye forces on Hesperus then set about buying the time the rebel forces needed to survive. The Fourth Rangers' unauthorized withdrawal from Hesperus proved fortuitous; the RCT's arrival In the Skye system on 19 June gave General McDonald's task force cause to pause and reassess their situation. The Loyalist forces withdrew from their pursuit of the Skye Jaegers, concentrating their energiesaround New Glasgow, which remalhed a hotbed of guerilla activity against the Loyalist occupation. To McDonald's surprise, General von Frisch signaled his intention to remain neutral in the battle, stating that his troops had already shed too much blood Tor Free Skye. She prepared to resume the pursuit of the Jaegers, but before she was able to commence the offensive, she received flashed traffic from General Nondi Steiner: pro-Victor forces were assembling in the ARDC, presumably for a strike against the capital. The Arcturan Guard—and any other units McDonald could assemble—was to make their way to Tharkad via a hastily assembled command circuit.

The Fourth Skye also heard the call and, at Duke Robert's "request" from his prison cell on Donegal, sped to Tharkad. They were not, however, moving to support Regent Nondi Steiner. Arriving in orbit they pledged their support to Peter's "pan-Lyran coalition" to unseat his grandaunt. Duke Robert knew he had lost his war for independence but now intended to with the peace.

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