Fan Fiction /Labor Day 2011/Fight for Ice

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The following report depicts the combat for control of the Corporation's mercenary headquarters located on the Northern polar ice cap of Barkon IV.

Written by Commodore David Ferber.

Opening shots, Barkon IV campaign

Ships and units involved:
RS HECATE, NEW WITCH, 26th MAC, VFS-109, a rattletrap tug,

Orders to the HECATE: Support ground assault of Planetary HQ on the Northern polar ice cap, support to be exclusive to medical, resupply, c3, and evac. There are to be NO orbital bombardments. We are here to liberate this world, not destroy it.

Orders to the NEW WITCH: Taking the 2 squadrons of HECATE fighters, create a diversion by attacking enemy comm satnet and orbital command interface (currently orbiting over northern hemisphere). This is a hit and run mission, DO NOT engage enemy starships.

The 26th Mechanized Assault Company will be assaulting the Planetary HQ along with several Recon units and the 1st OASI Bn. (TRNG).

Planning Phase, D-Day -8 to -2

Elements of the NEW WITCH purchase and outfit a rattletrap warp tug, as well as an ice asteroid.

HECATE engineering personnel strip out the weaponry on six planetary bombardment vessels (which were themselves heavily modified runabouts), and fit them out with only spartan safety and personnel carry facilities. These will be packed with two squads each, and will serve as uncloaked assault boats. They will be pre-loaded prior to action, and attached to the outer shell of the “wing hull” of the HECATE.

Pre-invasion Maneuverings, D-Day -2 to -0

An SOC tech LAM from VFS-109 is detailed from the HECATE to scout out possible escape routes, and enemy concentrations in-system. Three escape vectors are scouted, and marked as primary (Idiot), secondary (Halfwit), and emergency (Dumbass), with rendezvous coordinates for each.

Warp tug maneuvers ice asteroid into a pre-calculated solar orbit (at near light speed) that will take it very close to Barkon IV, close enough for it to be used as good cover for the strike force, far enough away not to be captured by the planet's gravity well. The NEW WITCH and her strike group hide themselves on the surface of the asteroid, while the HECATE cloaks and hides herself in the sensor shadow.

The Marine Recon units (four platoon's worth) are loaded into their assault boats, which are hidden by the HECATE's cloak. There is some friction between the Marine command and HECATE-FLAG over attack wave placement – their OIC is stricken with Sigulian Fever, and the relatively inexperienced Deputy OIC is commanding.

The assault plan is thus: 1st wave, 26th MAC will do the initial assault, with 1st OASI doing the follow-up hammer (2nd wave). The Marine Recon will act as “fire-brigade” reserve, ready to support any portion of the assault at a moment's notice, engaging by platoon. The friction between commands is brought about by the DOIC's insistence that the Marine Recon be first wave, with the 26th MAC and 1st OASI coming in as a 2nd wave – in her words, “if needed”.

HECATE-FLAG: “Marine, you have your orders.”
DOIC: “But Sir-”
HECATE-FLAG: “You shut the Frak up and sit the Frak down. I'm a commodore, you're only only a FRAKKING lieutenant. You don't frakking tell me what I'm going to do for you and your frakking quest for glory. Do you get me, Marine?”
DOIC: <stunned silence>
HECATE-FLAG: <sarcastic> “The correct answer is, 'Aye, aye, Sir.'”
DOIC: “Aye, aye, Sir.”

Opening shots, D-DAY, H-Hour minus 1

The “comet” slips past Barkon IV, and the two strike groups separate, the NEW WITCH group commencing an uncloaked attack run on the OCI at flank speed, and the HECATE maneuvering under cloak and at slow speed toward their target area. NEW WITCH will file report separately.

-00:50 hrs
Marine Recon assault boats separate and move to the target at flank speed. Comm silence is kept, but HECATE-FLAG is sure they heard him on the surface when he screamed, “You have GOT to be FRAKKING KIDDING ME!!”

-00:45 hrs
HECATE continues maneuvering to assault target in orbit. Light planetary defenses open up on assault boats as they enter atmosphere and then cease. Enemy fighters and scramble and move to intercept assault boats, which begin to split up in a wide group flight pattern. They have entered atmosphere too soon to begin assault operations.

-00:43 hrs
VFS-109 ordered to provide close-in support/escort to incoming assault boats. Their intended targets are hastily re-assigned to various squads.

-00:38 hrs
HECATE enters atmosphere, with the assault boats trailing far behind, now under fighter attack. The atmospheric disturbance is noted on the surface, but there isn't time to react to this new target. “Ride of the Valkyries” begins blasting on all channels, cutting off communications to both enemy and friendly forces.

-00:36 hrs
HECATE reaches target area, decloaks, and commences drop run. As HECATE decloaks, VFS-109 launches. 26th MAC and 1st OASI to an uncontested sub-orbital drop by the numbers, directly on top of the Planetary HQ.

-00:33 hrs
All drop troops having cleared the wake, HECATE reverses course to provide additional support to the assault boats. In direct violation of orders, HECATE looses a few phaser volleys at enemy fighters, which vaporize the targets they hit. “Ride of the Valkyries” ends, no music replaces it.

AB4 Pilot: “Bogey on our tail!”
DOIC: “No s---! Lose'em!”
AB4 Pilot: “Evasive maneuvers, Aye, Sir – I can't shake them! I can't sha--”
<bolt from the blue is seen on rear scope>
AB4 Pilot: “...he's gone...”
DOIC: “Whaddya mean he's gone?”
AB4 Pilot: <stabs a finger at HECATE, now at dorsal port quarter> “I mean that!”
HECATE-FLAG: <audio only, voice taut with anger> “If you're still alive, Lieutenant, don't say a word... don't say a frakking word... your new targets are being uploaded now. If you're alive when this is over, then we shall have words, you and I.”

-00:31 hrs
Remaining enemy fighters destroyed or driven off. Three assault boats have been destroyed, remaining troops in reasonably good shape, if shaken.

-00:30 hrs – planned assault time
HECATE and escort reach target area.

-00:28 hrs
Assault boats land and begin disgorging troops. Reports coming in from the initial assault indicated light to no resistance at first, but heavy action is beginning as the troops begin moving into the Planetary HQ itself, a large maze of subterranean corridors situated below the surface structures. That was not in the intel briefing, and it is quickly realized that mecha will be all but useless here. “Princes of the Universe” begins blasting on all channels, again cutting off all communications (except direct interunit comlinks)

-00:26 hrs
Enemy comm satnet goes down.

-00:25 hrs
A room-by-room, corridor-by-corridor assault is under way, efforts being hindered by defensive bottle-neck design of main entrance. Four Marine Recon squads are sent out looking for other entrances, supported by two LAMs in AirMech mode. Remaining LAM is in fighter mode, serving as CAP with remaining assault boats (which are lightly armed). HECATE recloaks and circles the target area just above atmosphere. Enemy units (ground, fighter support, and orbiting starships) begin converging on target area. “The Warrior's Lullaby” begins playing on all channels.

-00:24 hrs
Enemy transporter inhibitors in target area are re-programmed to friendly.

-00:20 hrs
Enemy starship arrives, unsuccessfully tries to transport troops to the surface. As their shields go down, HECATE drops cloak and fires a crippling volley on the enemy ship's weapons arrays. Enemy shields go back up, and the ship warps away. Three more ships are moving up as the HECATE recloaks.

-00:18 hrs
Planetary HQ communications array is destroyed on orders of 1OASI-OIC, a judgment call made due to surface sensors picking up enemy ships in orbit. “We had our own 'soundtrack', but I didn't want to take any chances.” -- from 1OASI-OIC After Action Report.

-00:17 hrs
“Back on Earth” begins playing on all channels. After several abortive attempts to transport troops directly to the Planetary HQ, one starship transporting and two at full weapons ready, enemy starships begin transporting troops 50 km off-target. The HECATE lays low during this, out-gunned. “One day it may be a good day to die, but it's never a good day when you choose to die instead of completing your mission.”

-00:16 hrs
A tight beam transmission is sent to the Joint Field Command on the surface, advising them of the inbound troops, and the now several starships in orbit above the target area. “It is estimated that two full battalions of enemy troops have been landed 50 klicks out on foot, may have few speeders, and at least two columns of power-armor and infantry are in motion from bases nearby – 1st column at battalion strength ETA 3 hrs,, 2nd column at company strength ETA 1.5 hrs.” LAMs land and change to AirMech mode, so as not to present an easy target.

“Saint of Me” starts playing. Six ships now orbit above the Planetary HQ, and roughly a regiment's worth of enemy troops are inbound from several directions at once, the closest at 1 hr. The HECATE remains cloaked, trying not to get run over in the crowd.

-00:07 hrs
“No Quarter” begins playing. Scratch defenses have been set up on the Planetary HQ perimeter. LAMs are cloaked and ready for action in Battlemech mode. The first sub-basement of the complex is secure, with 5% casualties.

H-Hour – music stops
Maquis Strike Fleet maximum warps into system, catching the enemy fleet forces flat-footed. Orbital battle ensues. HECATE moves off and decloaks, standing to in support of her troops on the surface, firing into the orbital fray as targets present themselves.

00:14 hrs
Remaining enemy starships run away (four destroyed/disabled, six driven off). Jager squadron gives chase.

00:16 hrs
Clear scope. Main assault commences (reports filed separately).

00:24 hrs
Enemy infantry columns do a 180, presumably to reinforce their late positions. Enemy marines, bereft of orbital support, speed up their advance. First units are ETA 1 hr.

01:33 hrs
On the outskirts of the Planetary HQ's surrounding hut village, a probing force of ten enemy marines in skimmers (two-man vehicles, lightly armed) is stopped cold by a Marine Recon squad, and wiped out.

01:35 hrs
Again on the outskirts, a cloaked LAM steps on an enemy skimmer, with 100% enemy casualties.

01:47 hrs
An attack-in-force is made by 44 enemy skimmers, in an attempt to swarm the opposing troops. The battle rages for three minutes before a breakthrough is made in the defensive line. 16 skimmers shoot through, into a hail of phaser fire which cuts them down to a man.

01:55 hrs
Last few skimmers retreat, estimated enemy casualties 58 killed, 23 wounded, 5 captured.

01:59 hrs
2nd sub-basement secured with 37% casualties. Wounded enemy and friendly troops begin medivac via the three assault boats to the HECATE and MFS MERCY. Bodies policed in lull between enemy advances, and stacked in relatively ordered piles... in the extreme cold, the dead are already freezing.

02:15 hrs
HECATE-FLAG reasons that orbital bombardment at the polar ice cap won't effect civilian habitation quite so much as that directed at the mainland, and so orders ventral phasers to target enemy troop concentrations, further than 10 klicks from the Planetary HQ, with (comparatively) low-yield fire. In the next 45 minutes, 75% of the enemies inbound are vaporized, with some Admiral bitching to high heaven over the comms. Remaining enemy troops retreat in disarray toward either of the two support bases also on the ice cap.

03:04 hrs
While it is unknown exactly why they waited so long, two squadrons of fighters launch from the closest of the two nearby support bases, and which are then picked off from above by the HECATE, before they can even get within 200 km of the Planetary HQ. The support base itself is then targeted by somewhat higher-yield phaser fire, and quickly reduced to ash, steam, and rapidly refreezing water.

03:10 hrs
Some of the rapidly retreating enemy troops have apparently gotten the message, and signal a surrender rather than freezing to death. 134 prisoners are taken by a force of five squads in a series of site-to-site transports provided by the HECATE. While the planetary defense weaponry had been seen (on sensors) at the other support base, for whatever reason, they did not fire as the transporters were engaged – and shields were down.

04:38 hrs
3rd sub-basement secured with 55% casualties (total, from beginning of assault, including perimeter actions).

04:45 hrs – 05:23 hrs
Reducing bombardment is commenced against remaining support base; counter-fire is made without damaging HECATE. Once base shielding falls, Captain “Mad Eyes” Jones leads 24 crew in a naval infantry attack to secure the base against the retreating enemy marines. Casualties are high on both sides, but the base is taken with its weaponry intact, and – as usual – “Mad Eyes” gets through without a scratch. Chalk up another one, Jonesy.

04:56 hrs
HECATE-FLAG beams down with a further 48-strong naval infantry party, to strengthen both the assault in the complex and the defensive perimeter, especially since the enemy marines now have no real place to go. HECATE now must rely on friendly forces for fire support, but may use any two phasers that can be manned at once.

05:03 hrs
4th sub-basement secured with 68% casualties.

05:18 hrs
The enemy defenders seem to be running out of steam, as the 6th sub-basement is quickly secured with only 70% casualties (again, total).

05:23 hrs
During the battle for the hopefully last level of the complex, enemy commander and associates escape in a trans-mantle tube shuttle, narrowly missing capture (within seconds, in fact) The angle of descent is calculated to leave out at the northern part of the mainland. Base defenders surrender after their commander exits stage right. HECATE-FLAG feels cheated, “Just seven seconds. If we'd been here seven seconds sooner, that would have been the difference between victory and only taking our objective.”

05:48 hrs
Skimmer and light power armor attack repulsed by “Mad Eyes” and his merry band of miscreants. Remaining enemy marines surrender, as they're too far from any support to survive, too spread out to effectively engage us, and too far from either ice cap base to bring action.

06:00 hrs
In a largely symbolic gesture, the Northern polar ice cap is declared secure. Within minutes, orders come down from up on high to set charges and evac all forces. A general retreat has been issued. “What was it all for, Sir?” “...when you find out, you can tell me.”

Casualty Report:

1st OASI Bn – started at 800, after action 164 effectives
42nd Recon Co – started at 105, after action 23 effectives
26th MAC – started at 125, after action 86 effectives
HECATE Naval Infantry – started at 73, after action 58 effectives

331 effectives left out of 1103

Enemy Casualty Report:

626 known killed
507 captured or “surrendered – awaiting pick-up” (112 captured at Planetary HQ surrender)
Estimated 15 flight crew killed
Estimated between one and two thousand killed in phaser bombardments of various columns, groupings, and bases.

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