Mm

Even as the countdown to Civil War grew closer to zero, the Duke made the decision to authorize a return to the AFFS uniform, giving his people a newfound symbol to rally behind and at the same time sending a not-so-suhtle message to the Archon-Princess as to where his true allegiance lay. While the Civil War broke out within the Capellan March, in the end it was as much a battle between Victor-supporters and Katrina-supporters as it was a battle belween both Duke Hasek's and Archon Katherine's egos.

For his part, Duke Sandoval focused his people against their centuries-old enemy: the Draconis Combine. Long before the Archon-Princess look power within the Federated Suns, the people ot the Draconis March were up in arms at the growing relations between the FedCom and the Combine. They virtually screamed tor Prince Victor's head when he continued to strip military defenses from the

Continued on p. 25

In the few weeks that it took the Dragoons to travel from Verio to Kathil, the situation on Kathil worsened dramatically. General Weintraub ordered Kathil's capital, District City, placed under martial law alter Duke Petyr VanLccs, the noble Duke of Kathil, cut Off the delivery of supplies and foodstuffs to the Eighth. Weintraub specif ically Surrounded the ducal palacc, effectively placing the duke under house arrest and blackmailing him into supporting the actions ot the Eighth.

Acting under the authority of Duke Hasek and of Field Marshal Suzanne Zellner, commander of the Kathil Theater, Major General Donald Sampreis, commander of the CMM, ordered the arrest of Weintraub and the Eighth F-C's command staff. Sampreis sent a security detachment undercover to carry out the arrests, but an Eighth F-C MechWarrlor discovered the ruse and fired upon the detachment. The Eighth immedi ately mobilized In an attempt to strike the CMM before it could itself mobilize from its Radcliffe base. The CMM was already on alert, however, and the two units clashcd in a number of bloody, yet ultimately indccisive, battles throughout the next several days, thus marking the recognized beginning of the Civil War.

As soon as he heard of the battle, Duke Hasek called for cooler heads to prevail and asked Weintraub to relocate his Eighth F-C to Lee until the "incident could be fully investigated." Weintrauh ignored the March Lord and instead focused his unit on taking complete control of Kathil from the CMM and the Second NAIS Cadre, a unit also assigned to the world but which had yet to commit to either side of the battle. Weintraub knew that the First Capellan Dragoons were just a few short weeks away from making planetfall arid that Hasek would undoubtedly be sending reinforcements soon.

Weintraub's subordinates made several gains almost immediately. Leftenant General Karen Fallon lead the attack to capture the Vare Industries microwave uplink center—a farm of giant transmission dishes that beam microwave energy to power the orbiting shipyards—from the NAIS Cadre, setting up an independent command post there. Weintraub also gained the support of Admiral Jonathan Kerr, a Lyran national who had commandeered the recently-completed Avalon-class battlecruiscr FCS Robert Davion from the McKenna Shipyards.

While the Eighth F-C RCT attempted to draw the CMM out with attacks upon the families of CMM officers, they only handed themselves defeats, including one during a highly successful CMM raid into District City that destroyed a huge stockpile of Eighth F-C munitions.

By the first week in December, the Eighth's armor brigade had defeated the NAIS Cadre in an attack upon the Woodland storehouses, pushing the Cadre back across the Howell River, into the CMM's operations area. A coordinated assault on the Seventh of December turned Into a major defeat for the Eighth, though, as the CMM pushed into the Yare facility before Weintraub could use the transmission dishes as weapons against the incoming Dragoons. The Eighth lost a battalion of 'Mechs and two support battalions, plus General Fallon, in that attack. Moreover, Sampreis struck into the heart of District City and freed Duke VanLecs and his family. Worse for all, the liobert Duvion, while attempting to engage the Dragoons' Incoming trans ports, was struck by a disabled DropShip and fell into Kathil's gravity well, breaking up in the atmosphere.

Cowed by so many losses In a single day, Weintraub ordered his remaining forces to pull back and concentrate on holding District City, including the massive GM complex to the north of the city. For his part, Sampreis spent the next week consolidating his forces, posting them to contain the Eighth. He effectively gobbled the Second NAIS Cadre into his ranks, almost doubling his remaining 'Mecli force into four overstrength battalions. By the middle of the month, he began to probe at Weintraub's lines, looking for weaknesses. While he found no weaknesses in the defenses, he did discover that Weintraub had apparently stripped his subordinate commanders of much of their freedoms, no doubt in order to quell the rampant "enlightened self-interest" that had been characterized by Fallon's failed Independent actions.

While the two opposing forces regrouped, Field Marshal Suzanne Zellner cleaned house within her headquarters, using Leftenant General Helen Sanderson as her inspector. She had some two dozen officers, including three general officers, arrested on charges of treason stemming from the action already taken on Kathil. Once assured of the loyalty of her staff, she and Marshal Ashlon Cumberland, commander ot the Kathil PDZ, packed up their headquarters staffs and relocated to the world Novaya Zemlya, entrusting the defense of Kathil to Major General Sampreis. Once <"»n Novaya Zcmlya, Zellner ordered the Sixth Syrtis Fusiliers, already in the process of transferring the entire command to Hadnall, to assist Sampreis on Kathil.

On Christmas Eve, Sampreis launched a coordinated assault on the outskirts of District City. While his armor and infantry probed the Weintraub's defenses around the GM complcx, Majors David McCar thy and Geoff Lee of the CMM and the Dragoons, respectively, pushed into the southeast reaches of District City and captured the Kay Bume munitions plant—though they had destroyed many of the storage buildings a month earlier, the factory was still functional. Once they had secured the plant, the CMM pushed two combined arms combat commands into the heart of the city, quickly grabbing block after block from Eighth F-C troops who readily fell back toward their base to the west of the city. By Christmas day Sampreis controlled the majority of District City, but Weintraub still held the GM complex, and with it the most logistically important part of the city.

Try as he did, Sampreis could not shake Weintraub from the GM complex. Running low on consumables in the first week of the new year, Weintraub executed a raid on the Woodland ammunition factory, held by a relatively small force of former NAIS cadre cadets and planetary militia members. His DropShips made away with enough ammunition and supplies to last the next few weeks—long enough, he hoped, for reinforcements to arrive.

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