Coordinator Theodore Kurita continued to fight Duke James Sandoval's invasion of his Draconis Combine, finally dropping troops onto An Ting, the last Combine world to remain in uncontested possession of Federated Suns troops. The Coordinator did not stop there, however. He authorized his generals to make a punitive strike into Duke Sandoval's Draconis March. Combine troops streamed across the border and hit five of Duke Sandoval's worlds.
Duke James Sandoval's grand plan was now quickly coming apart around him. His troops had already been expelled from four Combine worlds and barely held on to An Ting. Proserpina was the only world still completely within his possession, but he knew that the Coordinator would soon be coming for that world too.
Close advisors would mark this as the beginning of the Duke's slow degeneration. He still remained in control of his faculties, but the Duke's vigor and passion were replaced with hopelessness. More and more, he began to make decisions of questionable judgment, forcing his subordinates to shield him from some of the most troubling information and to take on more of the decision-making process within the Draconis March.
Tai-shu Isoroku Kurita, commander of the Dieron Military District, routed the Twelfth Ghost to Al Na'ir in late October, sending the additional support of two special forces battle armor battalions, several more DEST units and a wing of fighters he had scraped together from units throughout the district. This task force entered the Al Na'ir system on the 5th of November and, after linking up with the DCMS units already in-system, assaulted the world full-force.
This time, with the additional fighters and DropShips to call upon, the Combine forces grounded on the world and immediately moved on Homai-Zaki, pushing aside the few forces that General Zibler had left above ground to contest their landing. The DEST and special forces troops immediately moved into the underground city through six hidden entry points and took huge sections of the city from Zibler's Twelfth Deneb Light Cavalry astonishingly quickly.
Once the battle armor units had secured a primary entrance point, the three Combine units entered the city and began the systematic ejection of the FedSuns troops from Homai-Zaki. It wasn't the 'Mechs, however, that turned the tide of the battle, however. It was the two sides' battle armor and special forces (including the DEST and MI-6 teams) that truly fought the battle for Homai-Zaki.
The Combine troops had the so-called homefield advantage, and used it against the Twelfth DLC. Even though General Zibler's own troops had garrisoned Al Na'ir for over a year, they had only barely learned the basics of the underground tunnel systems, whereas quite a few of the Combine officers and NCOs had served on Al Na'ir before, or had at least trained there before. The Combine battle armor ran roughshod over Zibler's Twelfth DLC, pushing them out of the underground complex by the middle of January.
General Zibler knew she could not hope to retake the city without significant additional reinforcements from Robinson, reinforcements that she also knew would never be forthcoming. Calling her operation a partial success—she had conquered a Combine prefec came to understand the Province's politics and worked hand-in-hand with General Dundee to establish an independent Skye. When Robert was released from Garvinny Prison, he found in his wife a willing partner in advancing the cause of Skye independence.
So did Robert order the murder of his prospective mother-in-law? The LIC never found any evidence that he did, but neither was there any evidence implicating the other candidates. They did, however, regard him as the most likely candidate, particularly after hearing first-hand from Rainer Poulin, the LAAF Skye Province commander who escaped the provincial capital to Trent, where he established a temporary command post for the duration of the rebellion. Poulin reported that his daughter, Amélie, a social acquaintance of both Kelswa-Steiner and Hermione Aten, claimed to have heard John Dundee—then simply Robert's military advisor—call the youngest Aten "duchess" in October '64, even though both her mother and elder sister were still alive. Though entirely circumstantial, the claim casts the assassination in a new light, suggesting that the then-baroness—with or without her fiancé's collusion—was involved in her mother's murder.
ture capital and claimed quite a deal of equipment and materiel from the world's factory and storehouses—she gave the order to withdraw. Under the cover of her massed fighter wings, she lead her Twelfth DLC back to their landing zone and prepared to leave the world.
The Combine commanders made one last attempt to prevent the unit from leaving the world, throwing their own fighters at the FedSuns LZ while a few DEST platoons attempted to infiltrate the Twelfth DLC encampment. The DEST troops managed to kill a number of ranking officers and wound many others, including General Zibler, but Kommandant Pietr Kusnetsoff organized the Cavalry and pulled them off the world on the 13th of January.
Homai-Zaki was left razed by the intense fighting, with both Yori and Scarborough temporarily inoperable. While the 12th DLC had taken quite a bit of intelligence data and military materiel from the world, what they left behind gave DCMS analysts their own coup. In the remains of the nearly four battalions of Combine and FedSuns battle armor destroyed on the world were a number of Infiltrator Mk. II suits. Additionally, the Combine got its first good look at the FedSuns Rotary Autocannon weapons and its advanced targeting systems. Though the fighting on the world had cost the Combine deariy in both dead and the loss of military production, the DCMS finally got their hands on equipment they had been trying to gain for years.
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