Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Star League Part 25


Defeating the automated defenses at Terra’s two standard jump points proved to be the easiest part of the entire campaign. The SDS had five major immobile battlestations at each jump point, their weapons ready to attack anything that materialized and failed to signal the proper code. To deal with this, General Kerensky ordered the automating of 20 aging Jumpships and 60 Overlord DropShips with sophisticated computer and guidance systems. The DropShips weapons were replaced with extra armor. Their massive holds were then stuffed with explosives.

These unmanned ships materialized in the Terran system and accelerated immediately toward the enemy battlestations. Though many DropShips were destroyed, enough got through to detonate on their targets to destroy all of the battlestations.

Almost a thousand warships and troop transports surrounding the jump points of eight different worlds waited to make the journey to the Terran system and responded within minutes after receiving confirmation that the last obstacle had been cleared away. Because of the premium on speed, the General reluctantly agreed to cut the distance between jumping ships to one-fourth the norm so that extra ships could pack the points and make the jump. After fully materializing, ships had just five minutes to clear the jump point before the next group of ships materialized. If they made a mistake, groups of ships would materialize inside of one another. There was also no way to stop the operation should something go wrong; once it started, it would not stop until the last ship materialized above Sol.

Fate seemed to be looking out for the soldiers and sailors of the SLDF that day. Of the 932 ships that waited to make the jump to Terra, only 20 failed. Eighteen of those suffered drive failures at the point of departure without any loss of life. Of the remaining two, the troop transport Richardson suffered a partial failure of its station-keeping drives upon materialization. Captain G.T. Garret, realizing that he would not be able to move his ship out of the jump point quickly enough, ordered its DropShips to launch immediately. The DropShips made it clear of the jump point. The Richardson almost made it clear, but the corvette Mississippi Queen materialized with its prow inside the transport’s engineering section. The Richardson exploded, with all hands lost. The Mississippi Queen sustained heavy damage but vacated the jump point before the next wave appeared.

Once the fleet was assembled into formation with the troop transports (armored DropShip carriers) surrounded by warships, it began a High-G acceleration toward Terra. The orders for the warships were to protect the transports at all cost. Though not discussed in the briefing rooms of the warships, the ship captains understood the unspoken order from the Admirals to sacrifice even their ships as a last resort to save the transports.

Four days before the main force was to rendezvous with Terra, 40 warships used pirate points to materialize just a day’s travel from Terra. They were ordered to destroy as many drone warships as possible. Each Caspar carried the firepower of a cruiser and had the maneuverability of a destroyer. For the next two days, the Star League ships fought the swarm of Caspars that gathered around them. The cruiser Sovetskii Soyuz was the last warship to succumb to the sheer number of drones. The 40 Star League warships had destroyed more than 100 drones.

This left only 150 drone warships to challenge the fleet. With the main fleet still two days from Terra, the battle with the Reagan drone warships began. The drones, using the tactics that long-dead admirals had programmed into their distant computers, shadowed the fleet just outside of weapon range, waiting to single out ships to destroy. Occasionally, groups of two or three drones would suddenly accelerate and attempt to cut through the fleet with the ferocity of sharks. They concentrated their fire at the transports, destroying many. Whole divisions disappeared in a single pass of the deadly ships.

Twelve hours from Terra, with the sudden brightness of their engine exhaust signalling their acceleration, all of the drones attacked. Admiral Grec ordered most of his warships to meet them midway. Fighters scrambled from their carriers.

The two fleets opened fire, the flash of lasers and the angry exhaust of missiles casting eerie shadows on the hulls of the ships. Several drones broke through and drove toward the vulnerable transports. Clouds of fighters chased them down and destroyed them, but at the cost of more transports. Debris traced the path of Kerensky’s fleet.

As the battle wore on, the drone warships lost their tight organization as more were destroyed. No longer able to make coordinated attacks on the transports, more Caspars began defending against the Star League warships. The unspoken order was also having an effect. Captains of grievously wounded warships aimed their vessels directly at drones. Most of the time, the automated ships easily dodged the suicide attacks, but these tactics by their human opponents seemed to confuse the drones and make them more cautious.

By the time the fleet was two hours from Terra, the tide of the battle had turned. Star League warships outnumbered drone ships. Admiral Grec’s warships caught the enemy in a crossfire. With the transports safe, the fighters returned to their carriers for refueling and rearming.


The campaign to recapture Terra was long and bloody. It took eight years and cost millions of lives, consuming more than half of the most powerful military ever assembled.

Though the Periphery uprising had cost about one-fourth of the strength of the SLDF, General Aleksandr Kerensky still had an army of more than 300 divisions, and he threw the full force of it at Stefan Amaris.

The campaign cost more than half of General Kerensky’s divisions, including 46 of the remaining 82 ‘Mech divisions, advanced weapons that mankind has been unable to replace.

From the beginning of the Periphery uprising to the Exodus of General Kerensky and his remaining loyal troops, the SLDF was reduced from a force of 486 divisions in strength to one of 113 divisions. Even with such horrifying losses, General Kerensky took with him a force stronger than any that remained. The Star League forces that did stay behind became the strongest units in the House militaries, with some surviving intact to modern times.

-From Fall of an Empire, by Grenville DuSimpson, Tharkad Press, 3021


An hour from Terra, the fighters were ordered back into combat. They left their DropShips and warships and headed toward Terra to destroy 30 key laser and missile batteries on the continents of Europe and Asia.

To reduce their vulnerability to laser and missile fire, the fighters chose an especially steep descent angle. Many were shot down anyway, some by Republican fighters, but most by the automated defenses of the Reagan SDS.

Some ‘Mechs were already making their descent when the first fighters reached their targets. DropShips were already releasing armor and troop carriers. The few fighters protecting the rain of ‘Mechs and men had their hands full with Republican fighters that scrambled from bases all over Terra. Aiming for the thousands of ‘Mechs, the Amaris fighters had little trouble scoring kill after kill. If the fighters sent to destroy the SDS bases could not accomplish their missions, the entire invasion was in jeopardy.

The fighters almost failed. Losses due to enemy fighters, ground-based weapons, and the treacherous descent were higher than expected. The remaining pilots, chased by Republican fighters and fired upon from the ground, needed to make every bomb count. They succeeded, but with extremely heavy losses.

Because of the skill and determination of the Star League AeroSpace pilots, 30 divisions made their drops onto Terra in relative safety. The first division down was the 146th Royal BattleMech Division (George S. Patton Division), which landed within striking distance of Moscow. The other divisions landed as far west as Madrid, Spain, as far east as Magadan on Asia’s Pacific coast. Their landings went unopposed by the Republican forces, who were holed up in the major cities and in Terra’s twelve Castles Brian. The few attacks came from AeroSpace Fighters and other air units, which retreated quickly when challenged.

General Kerensky landed a short time after the initial drop. He assumed control of the Patton Division and led the first assault to retake his home city of Moscow. As he did so, other units were launching similar attacks against other major cities and, more importantly, spaceports.

The General’s tactics were tinged with conflicting emotions as he maneuvered his Orion BattleMech down streets he knew so well. Every building, every tree, every monument in the city was sacred to him, and the General knew that this battle would damage Moscow as much as it would his enemies. Seeing what his city had become under Emperor Amaris-the defaced monuments, the hospitals turned into mortuaries, the parks where daily executions had been held-enraged him beyond caring. Even the house where he was born had been destroyed.

With the aid of the Eleventh Mechanized Infantry Division, General Kerensky pushed the Rim Worlds units, the Thirty-third Amaris Dragoons ‘Mech regiment and attendant regiments, out of the city and then surrounded them on the plains. For a long while, General Kerensky seemed to be waiting to call in air strikes and artillery barrages. Even when the enemy offered to surrender, it appeared that the General would let his anger rule the day. After two hours of sitting in the cockpit of his ‘Mech, he finally accepted the surrender.


You will fight to the last soldier, and when you die, I will call upon your damned soul to rise and speak horrible curses at the enemy.

-Orders of Emperor Stefan Amaris to his troops

By January 2779, Europe and most of Asia were in General Kerensky’s hands. Though there had been some bitter fighting, especially for the Castles Brian, it was obvious that most of the Republican forces were massed on the North American continent. The Republican forces were using desperate tactics, including using entire city populations in chains as shields. To save lives, General Kerensky canceled plans to invade Africa and South America and instead focused on North America.

Getting there would be the biggest problem. Using DropShips to ferry troops would expose them to the still-active SDS ground weapons in the Americas. The ten transoceanic tunnels that connected the continents had been destroyed by Amaris and were beyond repair. General Kerensky devised a plan that balanced safety and speed.

On January 15, a massive force led by the 322nd BattleMech Division (The Antarctic Division) and the Ninth Mechanized Infantry Division crossed the Bering Strait and entered the northern state of Alaska. At the same time, SLDF warships and fighters loosed an enormous barrage on SDS ground weapons to cover the descent of thousands of DropShips into the Mexican Republic.

Resistance to the simultaneous invasions was much stiffer than anything encountered in Europe and Asia. The elite of the Amaris military fought the Regular Army for every centimeter of land. On the northern front, the Antarctica Division’s tenuous foothold on Alaska was almost taken away when two Amaris divisions threatened to push it back into the frigid waters.

Then Emperor Amaris assumed command of the continent’s defense. He had been a good strategist, but years of paranoia had eroded his skills and judgement. By March, the northern force, reinforced by a landing in central Canada, was working its way down the coast toward Unity City. On the Southern front, the 135th Royal BattleMech Division (Van Diemen Division) was leading Star League forces north along the coast toward the Court of the Star League. The states of Florida, Texas, and New York became secondary invasion sites, pinning down Amaris troops that might otherwise have gone to the aid of their Emperor.

The Amaris forces made desperate stands against the approaching Star League troops during June-July 2779. On the northern front, massive battles took place on Vancouver Island. To the south, Republican forces held the northern bank of the Columbia River against the 135th for three weeks. Star League forces finally broke through both lines, pushing Republicans back to the terrain around the Court of the Star League by September.

On September 3, 2779, forward elements of the Ninth Mechanized Infantry were the first to see the Court of the Star League. (The Ninth was known as the “The Pride of Puget Sound” because its ancestor division had once been stationed nearby.) The final battles proved to be the bitterest. Republican troops, true to their Periphery heritage, resorted to suicide tactics in futile efforts to prevent the Star League from regaining the city. Their desperate tactics delayed the final assault, which General Kerensky led personally.

The victory of the long campaign quickly turned sour, however, when Kerensky learned that Amaris was not in Unity City. Even before Star League troops reached the Court, Terran citizens welcoming the General told him that Amaris spent most of his time pacing the Imperial Palace.

Heeding the pleas of his wife, two sons, and three daughters, Stefan Amaris had left Unity City for the Star Palace that Richard Cameron had built for him in the Canadian wilderness years earlier. Amaris had renamed it the Imperial Palace, and there he waited.

General Kerensky left Unity City to his staff and turned his attention to Amaris. To make sure the Usurper did not escape, General Kerensky called on his second in command, General DeChavilier, to lead a special assault force. On September 29, ‘Mechs from the elite Twenty-Sixth Royal ‘Mech Division (The Graham Division) dropped on and around the Imperial Spaceport, which was located near Amaris’s retreat. General DeChavilier’s drop, which was soon reinforced by DropShips carrying more troops, disrupted the Republican defense and cut off Amaris’s only avenue of retreat.

General DeChavilier, commanding regiments from the Ninth and Twenty-sixth divisions, soon linked up with General Kerensky, who was commanding several regiments from the 328th Royal ‘Mechs (Lion-Hearted Division). Together, they defeated the Republican guards protecting the area. Despite repeated ambushes, Generals Kerensky and DeChavilier subdued the opposition in one day and closed in on Amaris.

The two Generals, with two lances of ‘Mechs guarding them, entered the large park that encircled the Imperial Palace. Members of Amaris’s personal guards had been warned that General Kerensky would be coming in his olive-drab Orion. Actually seeing the ‘Mech and knowing that commanding it was the mighty legend himself, however, made them hesitate.

General Kerensky pushed his Orion into a run. By the time the Republican defenders in their armored pillboxes on the wall began firing, the General was halfway to them. He quickly reached the walls, where bad firing angles for the pillboxes protected him. As General DeChavilier and the rest of the two lances silenced the pillboxes, General Kerensky’s Orion smashed the gates of the Imperial Palace.

With that, the Republican soldiers inside laid down their weapons and cleared the way to Amaris’s quarters. When the Generals approached Stefan Amaris, still in his now-tattered Emperor’s robes, came out to meet them. He slowly drew the same pistol he had used to execute Richard Cameron, and laid it at the feet of General Kerensky’s ‘Mech. He then looked up, as if expecting his conqueror to say something. When no response came, Amaris shrugged and began to leave the Imperial Palace grounds.

The sight of the former Emperor walking ahead of General Kerensky’s olive-drab ‘Mech ended the resistance of the few remaining Republican soldiers. From a side entrance, Amaris’s wife and children emerged. They ran to catch up and fell into step beside him without a word.

The General escorted his prisoners to the headquarters of the Ninth Mechanized Infantry Division, located in the remains of what had been a posh hotel for visitors to the Imperial Palace. General Kerensky treated the Usurper like a gentleman and ordered a suite of guarded rooms turned over to the Amaris family. In return for treatment that he did not really expect, Amaris gladly agreed to broadcast an order to his troops to surrender.

The effect of Stefan Amaris’s message was immediate. Republican troops, mostly in the three North American Castles Brian, began to lay down their weapons and surrender. The message took longer to reach troops on other worlds, where fighting did not end until early November. Enemy troops, who surrendered by the thousands, were treated with respect, as ordered by General Kerensky.


The General’s advisers debated what to do with Stefan Amaris, his family, and his top aides. Many argued that they should be executed immediately, but General Kerensky felt that executing Amaris and his people without a trial would make a shame of all they had fought for. Only a few sided with the General, but no one dared challenge the legendary leader. The prisoners continued to live on in their luxurious cells.

After nearly a decade of war, General Kerensky and the SLDF rested. The people of the Hegemony and in some other realms celebrated. Star League troopers were heroes everywhere they went. General Kerensky allowed the atmosphere of celebration to continue for a month. Then it was back to work. He ordered his units to assess the damage to the Hegemony, salvaging what they could, and begin the reconstruction.

Two weeks later, while cleaning up the Court of the Star League and attempting to restore it to its former grandeur, troops unsealed the Throne Room. Even the most battle-hardened soldier could not take the sight or the smell of the room for longer than a few moments. The outrage was immediate. The cry for Amaris’s head grew so loud that General Kerensky had to be careful about who he assigned to guard the Amaris family.

Though he had been wading through the stack of administrative tasks that had built up, the General had to see the Throne Room for himself. Two weeks after the unsealing, Kerensky flew from the Imperial Palace to the Court of the Star League. He walked into the Throne Room, which had not been cleared, and asked to be left alone. Thirty minutes later, he came out and flew back to the Amaris’s retreat. He ordered that Stefan Amaris, his family, and his aides be marched into a courtyard, where soldiers with laser rifles waited as each prisoner refused a blindfold. The General himself gave the order to fire.

When the deed was done, Kerensky was heard to mutter as he left, “There will be no sympathy for the devil.”

Later that day, the General ordered the bodies preserved and protected until he could decide what to do with them.

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