Rash: 2 January 3063

The heavy action on Ft. Loudon, Thorin, Coventry and Rasalgethi convinced officers throughout the LAAF that the time had come to decide where the loyalties of the various unit commanders spread across the Lyran Provinces and Theaters lay. Leutnant-General Paul Urbanick, commander of the Sixth Donegal Guards, and Colonel Griff Storm, commander of the mercenary unit Storm's Metal Thunder, were both devout Lyran officers who had pledged their loyalty to the Archon. Leutnant-General Lisa Bortman had not done the same, however. Not only did she command a significant number of FedSuns-born soldiers, but she had an undeniable link to the Skye region.

As the year 3062 came to a close, Kommandant-General Seamus Kinnell, deputy commander of the Freedom Theater, began to see Bortman and her Eighth Deneb Light Cavalry as a threat, especially with Victor Steiner-Davion so close at hand. Having spent much of his career in command of Urbanick and his Sixth Donegal, Kinnell knew he could count on them to carry out his orders. In mid-December, as fighting began to heat up in both the Federated Suns and the Lyran Alliance, he dispatched several additional armored regiments to Kikuyu, officially calling them reinforcements to the planetary defense, to shore up the Sixth Donegal's numbers.

When they arrived, Kinnell issued final orders to Urbanick to take complete charge of Kikuyu's defense and remove the threat the Deneb Light Cavalry presented to planetary security by any means necessary. By that time word of heavy fighting on Ft. Loudon and Rasalgethi had already reached Kikuyu. Worried about the nature of the fight, Urbanick spent two weeks cautiously planning the campaign that would either destroy the Eighth DLC or drive it from Kikuyu. Kinnell himself traveled to the world in the week between Christmas and New Years, claiming it to be an unofficial present to his old unit. In reality, he was worried that Urbanick might not have the strength to carry out his orders and he wanted to witness the death of the Eighth Deneb Light Cavalry himself.

General Bortman was not blind to the storm brewing within the Lyran Alliance, but to date none of the truly neutral units stationed within the Lyran Alliance had been attacked without provocation—something that Bortman was not about to give Urbanick. Though a skilled and veteran unit, the Eighth DLC also had significant supply problems, something that neither General Kinnell nor his commander, Sharon Bryan, had ever felt obliged to remedy. Bortman resolved to keep her mouth shut and do everything within her power to keep the peace on the planet.

General Urbanick broke that peace in the early morning hours of 2 January 3063. The DLC garrisoned two bases on Kikuyu, restricting themselves primarily to the bases and a few minor outposts. Urbanick stormed both bases, overrunning DLC security patrols almost immediately and running roughshod over the bases. He lead the assault on Godan himself while leaving the secondary base at Kelta Ran to Colonel Storm. Backed by the firepower of nearly his entire RCT, General Urbanick dealt significant damage to the DLC's base, destroying hangars, warehouses and dormitories without regard to what was in them. In just the first hour, almost two thirds of the base was either demolished or set on fire. Severe confusion hampered the DLC's ability to form itself up, and by the end of the third hour of the attack, Urbanick was ready to declare victory, having lost a handful of 'Mechs and tanks. Then the DLC seemingly came to life.

As infantrymen and other soldiers congregated at the base dispensaries and aid stations, officers and senior NCOs would form them into provisional companies. These provos would either attempt to overwhelm a Donegal Guards tank or would try to make its way to an armory to gather weapons. Some even made mad dashes to the hangars to try to get the surviving 'Mechs and vehicles into the battle. Rising up from within the Donegal Guards' lines, the DLC seemed more powerful than it really was. Command was non-existent and communications spotty, so rather than fight an organized battle against their former allies, the DLC provos protected their scattered buildings and roadway intersections, waiting until all the survivors were extricated from the burning and destroyed buildings.

Urbanick spent the rest of the day and the better part of the night rounding up the DLC survivors, but amid the smoke and confusion, several companies found their way out of the base and into the Kikuyu countryside. By mid-afternoon of the 3rd, Urbanick had control of the ruined base. Reports told him that he'd succeeded in killing, wounding or capturing almost the entire DLC contingent—more than half of the RCT—assigned to the base.

Two hundred and fifty kilometers to the southeast, Colonel Storm hit the mountain base at Kelta Ran. Intending to ground his DropShips right inside the base, Colonel Storm was forced to land at alternate LZs by the presence of three civilian ships that had never shown up on traffic reports from Kikuyu Space-Traffic Control. Reinforced by two of the additional armored regiments assigned to the world by General Kinnell, Storm grounded his 'Mech battalions in two separate valleys within a few kilometers of the base. He took the time to organize his task force for the assault on Kelta Ran before making the mad dash to the city; though Kinnell would later accuse Storm of dragging his feet, the fact that he did so prevented his command from taking more casualties than they had to.

forces on Coventry. He ordered the Krushers to move against the "rebel" Coventry CPM, though Walker's anti-Marik prejudice led to his using the mercenaries as shock troops. With the mercenaries bloodied by the offensive, Walker saw the opportunity to deal with another "disloyal" element and turned his forces against them. Ana Marik died in the Jaeger assault, though persistent rumors claim she was captured and subsequently executed by the Lyran troops.

The mercenaries staged a fighting withdrawal to Leitnerton/where they boosted for orbit on 21 January, narrowly escaping the Lyran picket vessels. After several jumps, the need to take on supplies dictated the Krushers stage a raid to take on the food and water they need to complete their escape. The raid, against Gallery on March 11th, was successful but angered the planet's noble ruler—General of the Armies Nondi Steiner. The Regent-cum-General tagged the mercenaries as a hostile force and authorized Lyran units to "take appropriate action" against them where they could.

Fortunately, the Krushers' luck allowed them to reach Arcadia on the Lyran-League border before major force was brought to bear on them. The presence of a Lyran fleet, including the warship LAS Yggdrasil, forced the Krushers' flotilla to scatter, the DropShips making a frantic dash for the planet. Harassed all the way to the world, they found the situation worsened by the presence of the Second Donegal Guards, relocated from Gienah. The ensuing battle shattered the mercenary force that, by the end of April, had only 2 operational companies and little hope of escape. When the trails of dropping 'Mech pods were seen on May 2, the mercenaries prepared to surrender.

Despair turned to relief, however, when it became clear that the inbound troops weren't Lyran but rather 'Mechs of the Sixth Marik Militia, dispatched by Jeremy Brett, FWLM Marshal of Tamarind and Kristen's brother-in-law, in direct contravention of the Captain-General's orders. The Militia forced the Donegal Guard to withdraw and formed a defensive perimeter that facilitated the evacuation of the remaining Krushers. Unfortunately, injured in the last hours of fighting, Kristen Marik died before the FWL medivac vessel reached the League.

Publicly, Marshal Brett was reprimanded

Continued on p. 40

An observant leutnant at the Kelta Ran airfield control tower picked up on the half-dozen military transports taking off from Kikuyu's primary spaceport in the early morning hours and alerted the base commander, who in turn alerted the DLC contingent. Taking no chances, the DCLCreinforced several nearby outposts. One company of volunteers placed themselves in the first pass that Storm would have to use and set up a few simple booby traps. Storm barreled through their roadblock, but their sacrifice slowed his advance, giving the rest of the DLC time to set up a few more defensive positions.

It took Storm two hours to travel the few kilometers between his rally point and the base, but once he set foot on the Jelto Ran Plateau, Storm and his task.force came under fire from almost two dozen artillery guns. Though they belonged to the Kelta Ran militia unit, DLC Colonel Jean-Henri de Jeruc appropriated them for his use. Storm ordered his force to hit the base at full speed while his own assigned artillery tuhes made counter-battery attacks. Once they opened up, Colonel Jeruc sent the Fourth Deneb Air Wing's VTOLs against Storm's artillery, quickly silencing them, before turning their attention to Storm's task force.

Storm's regiment made its way into the base, quickly outdistancing their armored backup, but paid the price for leaving the protective umbrella of the armored regiments' turrets. Striking quickly from under cover of buildings and rocky terrain, the DLC's hovertanks, jump infantry and medium 'Mechs took their toll on Colonel Storm's heavy regiment. Even once the armor caught up to Storm's more maneuverable 'Mechs, the task force never seized the initiative. After six hours of cat-and-mouse attacks. Storm ordered his battered and exhausted task force to fall back out of the base.

Even then, Colonel de Jeruc did not stop his pushing. He kept dogging Storm through the mountain passes, forcing the mercenaries back to their DropShips and even separating some of the armored companies from the rest of the task force. Where the Loyalist assault on Godan was a near-perfect attack, the Kelta Ran assault was a near-perfect failure. Storm maintained a tenuous hold on his LZs through the next day, but only barely.

While he kept Storm busy, de Jeruc dispatched two of his DropShips to pick up the survivors from Godan. The operation lasted far longer than he anticipated as the retreating soldiers took off in all directions. He set up a command post near the city of Bedford, using the unit's two Intruder-class DropShips and the Twenty-second Deneb Air Wing to cover the operation. Two days later the DropShips took off with a few hundred survivors, though at the cost of one of the Intruders.

Now the senior surviving DLC officer, Colonel de Jeruc took a few steps to ensure the survival of his unit. He ordered the RCT's JumpShip contingent to take up position at two close-by pirate points, where he could better defend them, while he strengthened his hold in Kelta Ran.

Once clear of Godan, General Urbanick turned his attention to de Jeruc. He sent one combat command to reinforce Storm in the mountains on the 10th of January while he prepared to assault the base. Not content to stay bottled up in Kelta Ran, de Jeruc mounted several quick strikes on locations all over the planet, both grabbing supplies and hitting Sixth Donegal positions in an effort to keep them off-balance. Disaster struck on the 14th when a DLC DropShip could not return to Kelta Ran due to weather and was subsequently overrun.

Urbanick made his assault on the 17th, moving In more than 70 percent of his RCT. Even a diversionary attack on the Sixth Donegal's headquarters in McGrath could not stop the assault. The Lyran general spent three weeks in the mountains while the smaller DLC force fought a fierce defensive action, but de Jeruc knew he couldn't hold out forever. He mounted a few more supply raids during that time, but it was becoming harder and harder to slip his DropShips past Urbanick's troops.

On the 15th of February, after more than two weeks of heavy storms that prevented any action, de Jeruc played his final wild card. Having been silent for over a week, his artillery guns opened fire once more with a heavy barrage. Only this final barrage struck the Donegal Guards and mercenary positions with gas attacks. Though the gas was by no means a serious chemical attack— the non-fatal contents were mixed up over the previous weeks by enterprising DLC personnel—it was enough to bring back thoughts of the Thuggee Black May attacks and send Urbanick's forces into a panic. De Jeruc and his surviving Eighth DLC boarded their DropShips during the ensuing confusion and left the world firmly in the hands of Urbanick and Klnnell, having inflicted serious casualties on both the mercenaries and the Donegal Guards.

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