Marduk

Flash: 22 December 3062

The fight for the world of Marduk became an instant favorite for military historians and armchair generals throughout the Inner Sphere. Before the fight for the world had even been concluded, senior officers within the Draconis March Regional Command were calling the campaign the "Battle of the Beaters" —an allusion to the general state of disrepair of the two battling forces.

Duke Sandoval chose to send the First Chisholm's Raiders to hit Marduk from the nearby world of Breed. Though he had other units that were both stronger and better than the Raiders, not only did he want to keep them in reserve as rein forcements or to use for follow-on invasions, he wanted to deprive Archon Katherine of a unit that had declared public support for her. At best fair-weather supporters of the Archon, the First Raiders whole-heartedly welcomed the opportunity to prove their worth since re-activation of the unit in 3058.

Prior to sending them off, Duke Sandoval dispatched Marshal Eileen Lugo, his deputy commander for the Draconis March, and Marshal Amelia Fitzwilliam, commander of the entire Chisholm's Raiders organization, to Breed to present the unit with new uniforms—styled in the traditional colors of the AFFS—and to award a promotion to general for Arisota Neece, commander of the First. Moreover, Lugo presented the unit with a piece of Draconis March history: the March colors that were flown over Bueller on Robinson following the recapture of the world In 2892, replete with citations and Dragonslayer Awards. Finally, the Marshal presented the unit with a company each of brand-new BattleMechs and tanks. With those simple gestures, the men and women of the First Chisholm's Raiders RCT wholeheartedly threw their support behind Duke Sandoval and his war against the Combine.

The Raiders hit Marduk on the 22nd of December, the same day that the assault forces likewise landed on Al Na'ir and Proserpina. General Neece had planned on hitting the capital city of New Pontiac first, quickly neutralizing the command structure of the planetary defense network, but once she saw the intelligence briefings from DMI agents already on the world, she quickly re-prioritized her targets. While the Twenty-second Benjamin Regulars were tasked with the defense of the world, apparently the security of the Victory Industries production facility rested solely in the hands of the company's own defense unit—a combined arms regiment spearheaded by a battalion of the company's locally-produced OmniMechs.

Seeing the Victory Industries facility as the biggest prize on the world, Neece directed the majority of her Raiders to the capture of that factory, leaving the Twenty-third Breed Recon armored regiment as her only strategic reserve. The factory complex was burled deep within the Tillerbee Jungle, however, and offered only the attached airfield/spaceport as a suitable LZ for Neece's DropShips. Neece toyed with the idea of bomb ing large sections of the forest to form makeshift LZs, but ultimately decided that in doing so she would give up too much strategic initiative. Instead, she dropped two of her three 'Mech battalions right on top of the factory complex, while tasking the third to securing the airfield for her DropShips.

Assisted by a company of battle armor and a battalion of paratroops, the Raiders' third 'Mech battalion secured the airstrip and DropShip landing pads in under an hour. While the infantry continued to clear each of the airfield's buildings of defenders, the First Chlsholm Raiders rolled out of their DropShips and directly into the factory complex.

Within the factory complex itself, Neece's other two 'Mech battalions were having a much more difficult time. Initially greeted by a heavy OmniMcch company tied into a C3 network, the Raiders lost almost twice that number before finally neutralizing the defending company. That 'Mech company's sacrifice bought enough time to alert the rest of the Victory Industries regiment, however.

Within the confined spaces of the factory complex, the defenders had the upper hand. While infantry squads took to the roofs and upper floors of the complex, sniping at the Raiders' 'Mechs with SRM packs and heavy weapons, the Victory 'Mechs and tanks made hit-and-run attacks that not only exposed them to brief punishment from the Raiders but slowly whittled their opponents down.

By the end of the first hour, almost a third of the Raiders' 'Mechs were disabled or destroyed, while every single surviving 'Mech had taken some damage, many with critical damage in one or more locations. The ranking Raider battalion commander, Major Robert Ryan, began moving the 'Mechs around in lance and company formations for protection. He did not pull his men out, however, as some of the company eomman ders were pushing him to do. Instead, he focused them on keeping the Victory defenders on the constant move, preventing them from consolidating their hold over the complex.

The first reinforcements rolled in just before the two-hour mark. First securing the warehouses and shipping container "fields" adjacent to the airfield, the First Chisholm's Raiders began the long battle for control of the factory complex, one that would last for almost four days.

In New Pontiac, Tai-sa Stephen Dirks began mobilizing his Twenty-second Benjamin Regulars as soon as he learned of the Raiders' assault on Victory Industries. General Neece called down the Twenty-third Breed Recon Regiment, however, to delay the Twenty-second Regulars. With the Victory complex almost 120 kilometers away from New Pontiac, and more than half of that distance winding through the ancient Tillerbee Jungle, the Twenty-third Recon had little difficulty staging ambush after ambush that prevented the Twenty-second Regulars from ever reaching the besieged factory complex.

General Neece and her troops finally secured Victory Industries on the 26th of December. While the Raiders' 'Mech and tank battalions took heavy damage in the fighting, they only lost two companies of 'Mechs and slightly more than twice that number in tanks to irreparable damage—losses they easily made up in equipment captured from the factory's defense force and taken from the production runs being read-led for shipment.

The Raiders spent the next eight days recuperating from the fight and re-equipping themselves from the stockpiles of weapons and BattleMechs produced at the factory—Including Firestarter, Black Hawk-Ku and Avatar OmniMechs (produced there under license from Luthien Armor Works).

On the 4th of January, General Neece and her troops again took to the field, this time targeting the Twenty-second Benjamin Regulars. Following the fall of Victory Industries, the Twenty second Regulars had continued their push into the Tillerbee Jungle, gaining secure holds over the towns of Gillant and Colgate, each less than 20 kilometers from the Victory complex. Neece again split her forces, this time attempting a pincer movement to envelop and destroy the Twenty-second Regulars. Her plan was only partially successful, however.

First, she dispatched two of her 'Mech battalions to make an orbital drop Into the heart of New Pontiac, an action she hoped would force Tal-sa Dirks to move out of the forest and protect the capital city. While he retreated, Neece's armor and infantry would closc around them and form the anvil while her two city-bound 'Mech battalions would become the hammer to smash the Twenty-second Regulars. Unfortunately for her, the old animosities between the armor and 'Mech contingents flared up again and Leftenant General Albert Vega attacked with his armored forces long before the Raiders' 'Mechs could form up. Tai-sa Dirks and his Twenty-second Regulars escaped the trap mostly intact, retreating into the rolling hills to the west and away from both New Pontiac and Victory Industries.

Following that action, the battle for Marduk degenerated into a more conventional fight as both sides formed battle and skirmish lines. Dirks fought a withdrawal toward a secondary base at Tauto while Neece tried to reform her Raiders into a cohesive force. Two weeks of hit-and-run battles through the hills and valleys leading into the desolate plains and deserts of the continent's western reaches resulted in nothing but frustration for both sides. Dirks continued to lead his weakened Regulars through the winding routes while the Raiders missed more and more opportunities.

Fed up with his attitude. General Neece removed Vega from command of her armored forces, promoting Leftenant General Caleb Yung from her operations staff to fill that vacancy. Though he had to resort to some draconlan measures to ensure that his orders would be followed, he got the job done. A coordinated attack on the 19th of January caught two mixed battalions of Regulars in the Guland River Valley while the Raiders held the high ground all around. Two days later, Neece accepted the surrender of another Regulars battalion after a particularly long and devastating artillery assault.

That left only a third of the Twenty-second Regulars in the field. Following the capture of Tai-sa Dirks on the 24th of January, the Regulars ceased to be a serious threat. General Neece returned to New Pontiac on the 25th, leaving a mixed-arms regiment in the field to take care of the remainder of the Twenty-second Regulars.

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