The Confederation's Wars - Background, Chapter 1, 2

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RyanGrimm
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The Confederation's Wars - Background, Chapter 1, 2

Post by RyanGrimm » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:48 am

Greetings,

I have been a admirer of BattleTech (with some reservations) since its inception back in the eighties and early on, I chose the Oberon Confederation as my domain. I found the major powers of the Inner-Sphere just too big to wrap my head around, especially since the original game (pre-BattleForce) made fighting any action larger than company vs company an almost impossible task. And, although the role of a mercenary held some appeal, my background as a military historian and soldier made me want to try my hand at empire building. The larger Periphery powers, the Taurian Concordadt and Magistracy of Canopus, were too well established and popular, while the Outworlds Alliance was too weak and fractured to make work. Of the minor periphery states, only three were viable contenders; the Marian Hegemony, the Circinus Federation, and the Oberon Confederation, and of those, Oberon was the most interesting.

I will be presenting a number of chapters of a short story/novella that I have been writing, off and on, for the past several years, with a working title of The Confederation Wars. It is based on the BattleTech Universe but diverges from canon in 3049. I have never liked the Clans, so in my alternate universe, they do not exist. The major powers of the Inner Sphere continue in the intermittent wars of conquest as do the minor powers in the periphery. My universe focuses on the region of space coreward of the Lyran Commonwealth, the Free Rasalhague Republic, and, to a lesser extent, the Draconis Combine. If the posting proves successful it is my hope that it will encourage me to write more.

The primary source of canon information for the Oberon Confederation is the BattleTech Manual: The Periphery (#1629) published in 1988. It contained several paragraphs giving a brief history, a not-too-detailed review of the local situation, circa 3030, a description of the primary world of Oberon VI, and a brief biography of the then current leaker, King Hendrik Grimm III. The BattleTech write-up from that sourcebook is given below – my intention was to indicate canon material with italics and non-canon historical information with normal font – unfortunately, I have not figured out how to load my work with formatting intact. I have greatly expanded the entry so that it more closely resembles a review of one of the major periphery powers, with an overview of the government and social situation, an expanded discussion of the Confederation military, a complete atlas of Confederation worlds as of 3030, and a listing of principle military-industrial concerns. The purpose of this posting is to provide you, the reader, with a frame of reference to work with.

Additional information about the Oberon Confederation can be found in the BattleTech Manual: 20 Year Update (#1639), the Wolf Clan Sourcebook (#1642), and later issues of the Periphery Sourcebooks. The 20-Year Update, which provides information based on the BattleTech year 3050 prior to the Clan invasion, had a brief section on the political situation in Oberon’s region of space and an statement that the Confederation had begun expanding it military starting in about 3035. The Wolf Clan Sourcebook also provided detailed information about Oberon’s military strength at the time of the clan invasion in 3049. These two souces, plus the original description, provided the framework for my universe. Additonal information can be found in later sourcebooks, articles, and on-line postings, but much of that is contradictory or confusing, especially the timeline, the age of the major actors, and the general character of the Confederation, and I have ignored or retconned most of what does not fit into my alternate universe version.

I will post this background information in two parts due to its length. The first part, below, deals with a brief history, governmental structure, and the military. The second part will cover the planetary atlas, the economics of the Confederation - especially as relates to the military - and a list of important personalities. I welcome any questions or comments.

HISTORY
Of the many “pirate” holdings in the periphery, the Oberon Confederation comes closest to being a miniature Successor State, and has recently been undergoing some dramatic alterations. The Oberon Confederation was founded in 2820 by Colonel Hendrik Grimm, an officer of the Lyran Commonwealth military, whose regiment was battered by Marik troops on Graham IV. Believing that the Lyran high Command had left them to die, the surviving members of the 65th Lyran Regulars made for the Periphery, eventually settling on the warm temperate world of Oberon VI. Soon after, many Inner Sphere soldiers who were weary of the endless warfare traveled to Oberon in search of an alternative.

During its early years, the people of the Oberon State conducted pirate raids against both the Lyran Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine, usually in search of spare ‘Mech parts and electronics. For the most part, however, the descendants of Hendrick Grimm I have been concerned primarily with the welfare of their subjects rather than in plunder for its own sake. Expanding outward from Oberon, the citizens of the Confederation have managed to colonize or seize control of their neighboring star systems. Of all the Bandit Kingdoms in the Periphery, the Oberon Confederation alone is self-sufficient. On a social level, a limited form of democracy has brought about educational systems for the young, improved health services, training facilities for MechWarriors and technicians, and even a modest pension plan for officers and enlisted personnel who have served the Confederation.

The recent development of Oberon into an increasingly stable, diversified state is due mainly to the vision of Hendrik Grimm III. Where Hendrik Grimm founded the state as a mockery of a government and his decendents simply continued the family business of brutality, King Hendrick III took the duties of his office seriously. During his tenure as sovereign, the welfare of the citizens of the Confederation became the first priority of the government. A sign of Oberon’s growing political maturity is its relationship with the nearby Elysian Fields. Hendrik has entered into trade and territorial agreements with them, the most important of which offers the Confederation docking rights in return for military protection against the many other Bandit Kingdoms in the area. As the Elysian Fields continue to develop, and thus become more tempting targets, ties between the two realms can be expected to grow closer. The potential for provincial unification - similar to that which led to the foundation of the Free Worlds League and Capellan Confederation seven centuries ago - may become irrestible to the leaders of both realms. Recognizing the utility of social stability on their borders, representatives from the Lyran Commonwealth, Draconis Combine, and Free Rasalhague Republic have approached the Confederation with offers of formal alliance - offers which have been politely refused - keeping the Confederation cautiously neutral.

King Hendrick III’s vision has been continued by his successor, Ryan Grimm. Ryan, the King’s nephew, became the heir when Hendrick’s own son was killed in combat with raiding pirate forces from Butte Hold in 3028. Having no other offspring, Hendrick selected the son of his younger brother, Karl, to succeed him. In 3030 Major Grimm was recalled from his position as commander of a state sponsored mercenary unit, the 2nd Oberon Legion, which was in the employ of the Federated Suns. Just twenty-eight years of age, Ryan had already gained extensive combat, command, and diplomatic experience through his military career and quickly proved an able statesman. Promoted to the rank of Colonel and appointed Chief of Staff Ryan Grimm helped to oversee the continued conversion of the Oberon Confederation from a “pirate kingdom” into a legitimate state.

The most serious challenge to this conversion came in 3038 when King Hendrick III introduced the Oberon Charter, the first formal document seeking to define the governmental structure of the Confederation and expand the principles of democracy. This reorganization of the government eliminated the military’s direct control and involved more civilian agencies. Although welcomed by the mass of the population and supported by the majority of the military, several military commanders, resenting the loss of prestige and power resisted the Charter. General Johann Grimm, commander of the 3rd Confederation Guard Regiment, military governor of Crellecor, and the King’s brother, led the rebellion. Luckily, Johann Grimm’s grip on the 3rd Regiment was not as secure as he thought, and, supported by loyal officers and men within that unit, the rebels were quickly defeated by Government forces led by Ryan Grimm and his father, Karl. Although of short duration, the civil strife took its toll on King Hendrik III, who suffered a massive coronary brought on by stress and obesity, and died in late 3039. Ryan Grimm assumed leadership of the Confederation with the title of Consul-General, in accordance the Charter of 3038.

The first act of the new Consul-General was a blanket prohibition on the raiding and piracy that had for so long been a staple of Confedertion strategy. In its place the Consul-General expanded the number of state sponsored and supported mercenary formations which hired out to governments of the inner-sphere. Consul-General Grimm has concentrated on expanding his military and his industrial base, defending the Confederation’s territory, and the continued transition toward legitimacy. Starting in 3040, the Consul-General instituted sweeping changes in the organization and deployment of the Confederation’s military and then, in 3051, the Consul-General launched a strike at the pirates of Star’s End, initiating what has come to be known as the Unification War - a series of military campaigns intended to eliminate the remaining pirate kingdoms in the area and integrate their planets and assets into the Confederation.


SPHERE OF INFLUENCE

In 3049, the Oberon Confederation consists of ten star systems located coreward of the Lyran Commonwealth and Free Rasalhague Republic. The Confederation also staked claims a number of star systems outside its territory, with plans for colonization and/or resource exploitation. Furthermore, the Confederation has accepted the four worlds of the Elysian Fields as a protectorate in exchange for docking rights.


SOCIOPOLITICAL STRUCTURE

The Oberon Confederation operates as a federal system of semi-independent planets, in which the Confederation Government has authority in any instance intra or inter-planetary relations. Local planetary governments include democratic representation at local levels and have almost complete local autonomy. The Confederation Government attempts to restrict interference in local events, but does insure that the Confederation Statement of Rights is upheld on each world, and that Confederation taxes are collected, and that funds are properly used and distributed.

Government Structure
The government of the Oberon Confederation operates under the Charter of 3038, introduced by Hendrick III and his successor, Ryan Grimm. The Government is a combination of a semi-hereditary chief executive, with the title of Consul-General, an appointed Executive Council, an elected Chamber of Deputies, and a randomly selected State Assembly.

Office of the Consul-General
The Consul-General is the chief executive of the Confederation Government, a semi-hereditary position held by the Grimm family. The Consul-General is the planetary governor of Oberon (although day to day governance of the planet falls to his deputy) and operates the government of the Confederation through the Executive Council with the advice of the Chamber of Deputies. Under the legislative process, the Consul-General, either directly or through the Executive Council, presents legislation to the Chamber of Deputies for debate, or implements such legislation by decree, which is debated after the fact.

Although the position of Consul-General is hereditary within the Grimm family, the holder of the office is subject to a vote of confidence every four years by the Confederation Assembly, the first such vote occurring in 3044. A recommendation of “No Confidence” occurs when at least two-thirds of the Assembly votes to reject the Consul-General’s policy decisions of the previous period and requires a follow-up vote two years later. Two successive “No Confidence” votes result in the removal of the Consul-General by the Chamber of Deputies and the appointment of a new member of the Grimm family, or, if no fitting candidate is avaiable, another suitable personality, to the position.

Executive Council
The day-to-day operational business of the Oberon Confederation is handled by the ten person Executive Council, which is appointed by the Consul-General, and consists of the Ministers of Defense, the Interior, Public Services, State, Justice, and the Treasury, and four Ministers-Without-Portfolio. The Chief-of-Staff of the Combined Command Staff is also a part of the Executive Council, although his role is normally advisory and he is often represented by a deputy. The Executive Council reports directly to the Consul-General and has the authority to create legislation, subject to his approval and the review of the Chamber of Deputies.

The Ministry of Defense is responsible for all administrative functions of the Confederation Armed Forces. These functions include administration, procurement, research and development, pay, military justice and education, logistics, and military intelligence. The Combined Command Staff provides strategic planning and organizational guidance as needed. The Ministry of Defense controls the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) which is tasked with gathering intelligence on foreign military forces and protecting Confederation military secrets.

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for coordinating the Confederation’s expanding efforts in the areas of manufacturing, research and development, resource management, transportation, energy, and communications. The Ministry of the Interior controls the Confederation Communications Agency and the Confederation Colonization Bureau.

The Ministry of Public Services is responsible for public health, education, and public welfare. The Public Services Ministry controls and operates the Public Service Corps (PSC).

The Ministry of State oversees trade and diplomatic relations with other Inner-Sphere and Periphery governments, maintains embassies, trains ambassadors, and conducts negotiations. The Ministry of State controls the State Intelligence Agency (SIA), which collects information in open and covert operations. The SIA is also responsible for counter-intelligence operations to prevent the theft of state secrets.

The Ministry of the Treasury is responsible for fiscal planning and budgets, tax collecting, disbursement of public funds, and investment of capital.

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for establishing a uniform and egalitarian legal system, certifying public and government advocates, appointing Confederation Judges, and reviewing planetary law to ensure no conflicts exist with the Oberon Charter. The Ministry of Justice controls the Confedertion Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Chamber of Deputies
The Chamber of Deputies is the primary legislative body in the Oberon Confederation, consisting in 3049 of 40 permanent members. Each of the ten planetary systems of the Confederation automatically receives one permanent position within the Chamber, the other thirty positions being assigned in proportion to planetary population. Deputies may be elected directly by the population, by the planetary assembly or council, or may be appointed by the Planetary Governor, depending upon the local government, and serve for a period of eight years. Deputies cannot serve two consecutive terms. Colonies or annexed territories that have not been accepted into the Confederation with full status are allowed one observing Deputy. As a courtesy, the four worlds of the Elysian Fields have been invided to send an observing delegate as well.

The Primary duties of the Chamber are to debate legislation proposed or enacted by the Consul-General or Executive Council, advise the Consul-General on local issues and requirements, and serve on various committees commissioned by the Consul-General to investigate a specific problem or area and suggest solutions. In the event that the Consul-General should receive two successive “No Confidence” votes the Chamber acts to remove the current ruler and selects a new Consul-General from among the Grimm Family.

Although the Chamber does not have the authority to overrule the Consul-General it can return legislation for further review. The Consul-General must then either amend the disputed legislation or enact it by executive order. Consul-General Grimm relies upon the Chamber to relay the wishes and attitudes of the population, and has often modified his position to comply with that of the Chamber.

The State Assembly
The most unique feature of the Confederation government is the Assembly. The Assembly is convened twice each year and consists of two hundred members selected by lottery from a pool of qualified citizens, each planet providing a number proportional to its population, members serving a two year term. The Assembly meets on Oberon VI for a period of two to four weeks at the end of each year, during which time it is addressed by the Consul-General, receives briefings by representatives of the Executive Council, and consults with the Planetary Deputies concerning legislation. At the end of each session the Assembly may vote to recommend specific legislation be approved or repealed, and votes to confirm the Confidence of the people in the Consul -General. When not in session Assembly members receive briefing packets from their respective Deputies on a regular basis. The Assembly is assumed to represent the will of the people and a leader who cannot sway their opinion in support of government policies will take steps to put the Confederation on a new path, - if he is smart enough.

Internal Politics
All members of the Confederation’s society fall into one of three classes: citizens, residents, or resident-aliens. Citizenship is based upon four criteria: relationship to a current citizen or naturalization, successful completion of primary education (nine years) or certification of equivalency, completion of a period of public service in either the Confederation Armed Forces (three years), Planetary Defense Forces (four to eight years), or Public Service Corps (four years), and compliance with the Confederation’s laws and regulations. Persons of legal age (22 years) born to Confederation citizens who have not completed the education or public service requirements and citizens serving punishment for crimes are considered residents. Immigrants who have applied for citizenship but who have not yet completed the above requirements are also considered residents. Outsiders who have established permanent or semi-permanent residency with the Confederation without applying for citizenship are considered resident-aliens.

Citizens are guaranteed by the Oberon Charter personal and civic freedoms, nine years of free primary education for their children and the competitive opportunity for secondary and advanced education, equality before the law and freedom from discrimination, and the right to participate in Confederation politics. Residents and resident-aliens may not participate in Confederation politics, are subject to a special residency tax, and may have their access to public services restricted. Resident-aliens may be deported without hearing for treason or criminal behavior. Residents may also be deported, but must first receive a hearing.

Although the Confederation recognizes no titles of nobility, citizens and soldiers who have performed some important service to the Confederation may be granted entry into the Legion of Merit. Membership is not hereditary and may be withdrawn if conduct warrants. The Legion has three ranks; Knight, Knight Commander, and Grand Knight. Membership in the Legion accords the recipient a small stipend, the right to wear an appropriate display on his/her clothing, the addition of the honorific to his signature and formal introduction (for example KCLM for a Knight Commander of the Legion of Merit), and a requirement that military personnel under arms salute Legion members. Honorary memberships are sometimes granted to non-citizens. Members of the Legion are often leaders in their particular field and may be tasked by the Consul-General or one of the Planetary Govenors to chairman a research comitted or oversee an development project in their field. Note that nomination to the Legion is not used as a reward for exceptional duty performance or acts of bravery on the part of military personnel - those acts are recognized through the military reward system. As this work goes to press, there are fewer than one-hundred active members of the Legion throughout the Confederation.

Political Goals
Having renounced piracy many years ago, the Oberon Confederation has been on the path to legitimacy since Hendrick III’s reign. The current leaders of the Confederation seek to improve the status of their citizens, increase Confederation influence in Periphery affairs, and expand the Confederation’s territory through negotiations and colonization. Although the Confederation desires to improve relations with the governments of the Inner-Sphere, the continued independence of the state is of primary importance. With the end of the Unification Wars, the Confederations expansion plans now are geared toward colonization and industrial/economic improvement.

Interstellar Relations
The Oberon Confederation maintains an embassy and full formal and permanent diplomatic relations with the Free Rasalhague Republic, the Draconis Combine, and the Federated Commonwealth. Each would like to make the Confederation into a vassal ally, but the Consul-General has insisted on a policy of political neutrality while negotiating trade agreements designed to bolster the Confederation’s economy. In addition, Consulates are maintained on the Capital Worlds of the Capellan Confederation, Free Worlds League, Taurian Concordadt, Magistracy of Canopus, and Outworlds Alliance. Finally, Diplomatic Missions are periodically sent to the various minor periphery states of the Southern Rim region.

As of 3051 the Confederation has increased its attacks against the several bandit kingdoms in the area. The official justification for these attacks is to defend Confederation space and to reduce pirate depradations and the unwelcome and often hostile attention of the Inner-Sphere governments.

The Confederation’s relationship with Comstar is complicated. Since Comstar’s Communication Interdiction against the Federated Suns, the Consul-General has mistrusted Comstar’s political intentions. Negotiations with Comstar has resulted in a new facility on Crellacor but the Confederation limits the activities of Comstar personnel and continues an active campaign to prevent ROM infiltration of Confederation agencies. Comstar’s recent requests to station its own troops at the facilities has been granted but limited to a half-company (II-Sized unit) of infantry and armor at each location. Although these restrictions frustrate Comstar they actually represent an improved position for the Order.

Strengths and Weaknesses
The strengths of the Oberon Confederation are those of all young, newly emerging states. Vigor, purpose, and a sense of destiny drive and guide the citizens of the Confederation, led by their forward-thinking Consul-General. The recent moves of the government away from a total dictatorship and toward democracy have given the people a new interest in the welfare of their state and national pride is surging.

Unfortunately, the legacy of earlier days of piracy lingers. The governments of the Inner-Sphere remember the raids by forces from the Confederation and their now defunct sister pirate kingdoms upon their weakly protected border worlds, and may still mistrust the intentions of the Confederation’s new government and leaders. In addition, the Confederation’s newfound military strength and improving economic power make them a more tempting target for larger power who seek to draw them into their political orbit. The Confederation walks a tightrope balancing trade requirements with political and military neutrality.


RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY

The Oberon Confederation’s Charter of 3038 guarantees the right of religious freedom to all citizens, so long as the practice of that religion is not a substantial threat to public safety and order and does not inhibit the rights of other citizens to the same freedom. No single religion dominates within the Confederation. Most religious organizations within the Confederation are small and private with only a minor presence on the public stage.


MILITARY FORCES

Since the Consul-General’s reorganization of 3040 the military forces of the Oberon Confederation have undergone sweeping transformation - away from their “pirate” roots toward military legitimacy. The Confederation’s improved stability and respectability has allowed the military to make great strides in both the quantity and the quality of equipment, and the move away from piracy and individual ownership of ‘Mechs has created a true sense of esprit d’corps among the troops. The Confederation Armed Forces (CAF), as opposed to the planetary defense forces raised by the individual planets of the Confederation, include citizens from every Confederation world whose loyalty is directed toward the Confederation rather than toward an individual planet or leader. Service leading to citizenship ensures that the military has access to the “best and brightest” the Confederation has to offer.

Uniforms
The Confederation Defense Force avoids the typical gaudy extravagance of many Inner-Sphere and Periphery military forces, instead emphasizing simplicity and efficiency. The standard fatigue uniform for all CAF personnel is a field cap, belted two-piece coverall worn over a lightweight body suit, and boots. Uniform colors are khaki for Ground Forces, dark blue for Naval Forces (including Aerospace Forces and Marines), and olive green for Planetary Forces. Metal or embroidered rank insignia with branch colors are worn on the uniform collar and field cap, while unit insignias are worn on the shoulders. In the field, combat forces add a camouflage smock of the appropriate colors along with personal equipment produced within the Confederation. Dress uniforms consist of a belted jacket with closed collar and trousers worn over short boots. Ground Forces wear brown jackets over over khaki trousers; Naval Forces wear dark blue over light blue; and Planetary forces wear brown over olive green. A visored service cap in jacket color completes the uniform. Branch of service (infantry, ‘Mech, engineer, pilot, etc) is indicated by colored piping on the jacket collar and cuff and along the trouser seam. Individual decorations are worn on the left breast and unit citations on the right. Rank insignia is worn on the upper arm for leadership ranks (chevrons) or at the cuff for command ranks (diamonds) or technicians (pipps). The belted jacket can be replaced by a short waisted jacket worn over bodysuit, without decorations and with ordinary rank insignia, as an undress uniform.

Ranks
Unlike other Inner-Sphere and Periphery militaries, there is no distinction between enlisted and officer ranks in the Confederation military. All soldiers enter the ranks as a recruit and are promoted based on ability and competition. Specialists may receive higher rank due to their training, but this does not guarantee that they will have an edge in future promotion. For example, after recruit training a potential BattleMech pilot will be promoted to Corporal and sent to one of the MechWarrior training schools. Upon successful completion of training, a MechWarrior receives the rank of Sergeant.

Personnel selected for promotion are reassigned to the Confederation Command Academy (CCA) or Confederation Naval Academy (CNA) for course work ranging from a few weeks to a year, depending on the new rank. The Naval Academy focuses more on technical proficiency than does the Command Academy, due to the technical nature of the naval command structure.

Entry Ranks
Recruit
Private/Spacer
Senior Private/Senior Spacer
Leadership Ranks
Corporal/Petty Officer
Sergeant/Chief Petty Officer
Lieutenant/Lieutenant
Captain/Lieutenant Commander
Command Ranks
Major/Commander
Colonel/Captain
General/Commodore
Marshal/Admiral

After completing their first tour in the ranks, GFC soldiers demonstrating the proper aptitude are selected for advanced technical training in service support fields. Service personnel have a separate rank structure (AsTech, Tech, Specialist, etc.) receiving equal pay but having no leadership function outside their own command structure. Rank for service fields is indicated by silver pips on a gray service disk - Chief Warrants, the highest service rank, have a single silver diamond with a small black diamond inset.

Entry Ranks
Although service is not compulsory (exept in time of emergency), citizenship within the Confederation is contingent upon a period of service either in the military or the Public Service Corps. All new recruits undergo basic twenty weeks of basic training and testing to determine military apptitudes. Upon completion of basic training selected individuals are sent for advanced training - the rest are forwarded to their new units with the rank of Private or Spacer. Recruits wear no rank insignia. Privates and Sailors (and Seniors) wear an arm-of-service colored service disk outlined in silver, but without rank.

Leadership Ranks
Leadership ranks are “lead by example” ranks controlling comparatively small numbers of troops. Leadership ranks are in the thick of combat so attrition can be high. Promotion to Leadership Ranks are by competition and testing at Battalion level.

Corporal/Petty Officer
Corporals lead a rifle fire team or act as crew for vehicles. Petty Officers are rated in a speciality (gunnery, ship handling, etc.) and provide technical expertise in addition to leadership. Rank is indicated by a service disk in arm of service color (yellow for armor, orange for BattleMechs, etc) bisected by a single bar.

Sergeant/Chief Petty Officer
Sergeants lead an infantry squad of 9-11 men, command tanks, or pilot BattleMechs or conventional fighters. Chief Petty Officers are senior specialists or pilot Aerospace Fighters. Rank is indicated by two bars bisecting the service disk.

Lieutenant/Lieutenant
Lieutenants lead BattleMech Lances or Platoons (four ‘Mechs or vehicles) or Platoons of Infantry (40 troops). Lieutenants also act as executive officers in a company or on a battalion staff. In the NFC a Lieutenant leads a watch or division or acts as an assistant department head. Lieutenants can stand watch on the bridge or in the engine room. Lieutenants also lead Aerospace Fighter Lances and Flights. Rank is indicated by three bars bisecting the service disk.

Captain/Lieutenant Commander
In the GFC a Captain leads a company of ‘Mechs, armor, or infantry, a battery of artillery, or a squadron of conventional fighters. Captains also serve a battalion executive officers or on battalion or regimental staff. An NFC Lieutenant Commander acts as a department head, a ships executive officer, or leads a squadron of Aerospace Fighters. Rank is indicated by four bars bisecting the service disk. The arm of service disk for GFC Captains commanding combined arms battalions is white.

Command Ranks
Command ranks are expected to control and coordinate a number of separate formations in combat. Command ranks are expected to avoid direct involvement in combat when possible to concentrate on their command role. Promotion to Command Ranks are by competition and testing at Ground Forces Command or Naval Forces Command level.

Major/Commander
Majors command Battalions or Wings in the GFC, act as regimental executive officers, or serve on staff at regimental level or higher. In the NFC a Commander commands a Jumpship or Dropship or heads a Task Force level department. A Commander would control an Aerospace Fighter Wing. Rank is indicated by a single silver diamond on a white service disk.

Colonel/Captain
Colonels command GFC Regiments or serve on Brigade, Corps, or GFC staff positions. A Captain commands a Naval Task Group consisting of a jumpship, its assigned dropships and aerospace fighters, and any Marine personnel assigned. Rank is indicated by two silver diamonds on a white service disk.

General/Commodore
Generals command a GFC Brigade while Commodores command Naval Task Forces, normally of two Task Groups. Rank is indicated by three silver diamonds on a white service disk.

Marshal/Admiral
The GFC currently has four Marshals - one as Chief of Staff; Commander-Ground Forces Command; and defacto commander of the Confederation’s military, and one assigned to each of the three Confederation Corps. There are presently two Admirals, one commanding each fleet with the 5th Fleet Commander also acting as Commander-Naval Forces Command. Rank insignia is the same as for a General/Commodore with the central diamond enlarged and outlined in gold. The Consul General, when acting in uniform as Commander-in-Chief, wears Marshal rank.

Structure of the Confederation Armed Forces
The Confederation Armed Forces (CAF) consists of a Combined Command Staff (CCS) and three Commands; Ground Forces Command (GFC), Naval Forces Command (NFC), and Planetary Forces Command (PFC).

Combined Command Staff
The CCS coordinates all aspects of operational strategy between the three commands as well as rationalizing organization and equipment planning and procurment. Although headed by the Consul-General in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, day to day operations are supervised by the Chief-of Staff, normally the senior officer of the Ground Forces Command.

Ground Forces Command
The largest command of the CAF, the GFC controls the Confederation’s BattleMech and conventional forces involved in planetary defense and offensive operations. The Confederation has embraced the combined arms concept fully andl all combat regiments and battalions contain a mix of BattleMechs, armor, and infantry. Combat support forces, infantry, engineers, artillery, and conventional aircraft, are grouped into their own battalions and companies attached to combat forces as needed. In 3050, at the start of the Unification War, the GFC can deploy twelve combined arms Confederation Guard Regiments and four regiments of supporting troops.

Naval Forces Command
Like all minor periphery states, pirate and legitimate alike, the Oberon Confederation suffered from a lack of naval and transport assets. It is difficult to obtain and maintain adequate BattleMech and conventional forces without the added expense and complexity of dropships and jumpships. For years, the Confederation was forced to rely to a great extent of hired transportation, to the detriment of its tactical and strategic flexibility.

With his appointment as Chief-of-Staff in 3030 Ryan Grimm began to encourage his uncle, the King, to alot a larger share of the military budget to expanding the Confederation’s navy - a process that accellerated when he assumed leadership of the Confederation in 3038. Although the BattleMech and conventional forces deployed by the Confederation have increased by fifty-percent since 3030, the number of jumpships and dropships controlled by the Confederation’s Naval Forces Command has more than doubled - from fewer than a dozen jumpships and dropships to the seven jumpships and seventeen dropships currently deployed. Naval forces are divided into two Fleets, each commanded by an Admiral. Each Fleet contains three or four Task Groups, each consisting of a jumpship and its assigned dropships, commanded by a Captain. Individual ships are commanded by Commanders. The 1st Fleet groups its Task Groups into two Task Forces, each commanded by a Commodore. Task Force 1 is attached to support the Ground Forces Command’s Strategic Reserve. Task Force 2 is assigned to support the IInd and IIIrd Corps, or the Strategic Reserve, as needed. The 5th Fleet consists of three operationally independent Task Groups. TG 5.1 is the fleet’s battle group; TG 5.2 is tasked with surveying nearby planets for colonization and acts as a reserve battle group; and TG 5.5 is assigned to the Consul-General to provide security and transportation. The Naval Forces Command also controls five squadrons of Aerospace Fighters (40 fighters total) assigned to support the fleet, and twelve companies of Marines (Jump Infantry) assigned to the fleet and as diplomatic security for the Ministry of State.

Planetary Forces Command
The Oberon Charter requires that each member world maintain its own military forces. Organization and equipment are dictated and provided by the Confederation but Planetary Forces come under the control of the Planetary Government and cannot be used off-world without permission. PFC units are include Planetary Guard and Militia Battalions, plus any conventional air assets available. Currently, Planetary forces are not allowed BattleMechs or Aerospace fighters, those limited assets being concentrated within the CDR - as time goes on and equipment levels continue to rise, that situation may change. During time of war the Planetary Forces comes under the operational control of the Confederation Defense Force.

Typical GFC Units
A Ground Forces Command Confederation Guard Regiment is a combined arms formations, each containing seven 4-element companies organized into three 2-company battalions (including one Assault) plus an independent reconnaissance company. Regiments are slightly smaller than their inner-sphere counterparts, especially in their reduced complement of BattleMechs. A full strength Guard Regiment deploys the equivelent of almost three companies of ‘Mechs, four companies of armor, and four companies of infantry. Confederation regiments also maintain the combined arms concept down to battalion and company level rather than having separate battalions of ‘Mechs, armor, and infantry.

The Confederation favors BattleMechs that emphasize armor and firepower over speed - home designed and built ‘Mechs of 35, 50, and 65 tons are replacing foreign designs as fast as production allows. Armor consists mainly of medium hover tanks, with sufficient heavy tracked tanks and LRM carriers to back up the Assault Battalions. Each regiment includes a mechanized infantry component and there is an additional regiments with five battalions of infantry specially trained in counter-insurgency, crowd control, and special operations. With only forty Aerospace fighters available, operational policy restricts their use to combat above the atmosphere in support of the fleet, due to their vulnerability and expense. Ground support roles are undertaken by squadrons and wings of conventional VTOL fighter aircraft.

Only one-half the combat regiments of the GFC are assigned as permanent garrisons on Confederation worlds - the remainder are grouped into a strategic reserve. With the addition of the many new worlds to the Confederation in the past ten years, the percentage of the Ground Forces Command’s strength committed to garrison duties has risen to about 60%, backed up by the battalions of the Planetary Forces Command. Currently the PFC deploys fifteen battalions of mixed light armor and motorized infantry supported by twice that number of militia infantry battalions.
ack
Last edited by RyanGrimm on Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Rayo Azul » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:25 am

An interesting start.

Look forward to reading your work

Welcome to the Fiction Forum

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Post by thatjimboguy » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:13 pm

Overall, this is an awesome start. I wonder about the whole "government representatives draw by lot" thing. It seems very Athenian to me and a bit primitive. I also kind of wonder what the reaction of a person who is chosen would be if it's not an office he wanted. Other than that one nit-pick though, I really like it.
"Win if you can. Lose if you must, but always cheat" - Jesse "The Body" Ventura

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Post by RyanGrimm » Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:59 pm

Although not a fan of "pure" democracy I have always like the aspect of public service by lot. However, representatives must put their own names into the hat, assuming they meet the qualifications.

I'm going to reformat the first chapter of the book and try to get it on line tonight.

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Chapter 1

Post by RyanGrimm » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:35 am

- Chapter One -

The low overcast and threat of rain did nothing to help disperse the haze over the battered town. At least a third of the buildings had been destroyed or were still burning fiercely and the acrid smell of smoke hung heavy in the air. Observing from the low hills south of the town Lieutenant Dunn could see the inhabitants moving about, some trying to extinguish the blaze, others helping the injured, many just wandering around as though dazed.

“Looks like they got hammered pretty good, Lieutenant,” said Corporal Smith, Dunn’s communications specialist. Dunn’s scout platoon was screening the front of the 52nd Battalion’s advance and he was dismounted with his command team and Corporal Vasquez’s headquarters rifle team.

“Yeah, well, the townies are just lucky that ‘Mech lance of Valesek’s picked up the Fifty-Second moving to cut off their retreat, or it would have been a lot worse.” replied Dunn. “Contact Sergeant Henry and have him link his teams up with us here, then get hold of Sergeant Balock and have her move the carriers into position along the ridge to our rear. I’ll contact Regiment and get some medical and engineer units up here as soon as possible. They’ll be able to help now more than we will.” Tapping a control on his headset he reported the situation to Regimental Headquarters and received confirmation that the requested troops were on their way. In a short time Henry’s squad had arrived and Dunn could hear the low whine of the platoon’s four 20-ton armored fighting vehicles moving into overwatch positions behind them.

“Henry, keep your squad here with the tracks and provide cover if needed. Vasquez, let’s get your team down there and make contact. We don’t want them to react badly when our guys get here. Nobody fires without my order, got that?” While Vasquez’s team prepared to move out Dunn contacted his two remaining squads and, after confirming their locations, instructed them to hold their position. Then he led the team down the hillside and across a burned field toward the town. They were within two hundreds yards of the first buildings before they were spotted by any of the town folk, who seemed too devastated to react until one voice forced them into action.

“The bastards are back! I knew they would be!” A woman yelled. “You guys get behind cover and one of you call in the teams from the north perimeter!

Lieutenant Dunn had spotted several armed men and women while observing the town but they hadn’t seemed to have any purpose or organization. Now, spurred on by the woman who seemed to be in charge, they quickly gathered into several teams of three or four and took cover. Not anxious to be fired on by these armed civilians Dunn told Vasquez to get his team down, dropped his weapon, and stood with his arms out from his sides. “Hold your fire, we’re not the enemy!” he called. “We don’t mean you any harm and just want to talk! Let me come up - I’ll leave my troops here!”

There was a moment of silence as his message was absorbed and Dunn could see the suspicion on the woman’s face. Before she could reply a shot rang out from one of the teams on the far left, the bullet striking Dunn in the side and sending him down. For a moment there was a crackle of small arms fire from the town but the woman quickly got it under control.

“Cease fire, cease fire!” she yelled. “Hold your fire until I tell you!”

As she regained control of her amateur soldiers Corporal Smith checked out his Lieutenant. “That was a pretty stupid thing to do, Lieutenant,” he said, “lucky for you that's a civilian rifle and not military issue!”

“Yeah, well, we’ve got to gain their trust somehow or it could get ugly when the battalion gets here. Besides, I was pretty sure the body armor would protect me.” Dunn rubbed his ribs were the bullet had been stopped by his flak vest. “It’s going to leave a hell of a bruise though.”

Climbing slowly to his feet he again stood with arms outstretched. “You’ll notice that my men did not return fire. Like I said, we are not your enemy!”

“Okay. You can come up, but just you!” shouted the woman.

“You guys stay here and keep an eye on things,” Dunn instructed his troops. “You too, Smitty. Vasquez, if you don’t hear from me in fifteen minutes pop smoke and get back to the carriers. Wait for Major Snow and then come get me.”

“You got it, Lieutenant!”

Dunn walked toward the woman’s position hoping her control over her force was a little better than before and reached the building she was behind without further incident. He stood calmly as she looked him over. “All right. Who are you?” she demanded.

“My name’s Dunn, Lieutenant Richard Dunn, Third Scout Platoon, Recon Company, 5th Guard Regiment. That’s part of my platoon out there - the rest is in the tree line about a half-klick back. We dropped on Santander V two days ago. We heard the gunfire, saw the smoke, and came to investigate - got here after the pirates left. Our ‘Mech Lance is following the bad guys. Who are you?”

“I’ll ask the questions for now!” she snapped. “5th Guard Regiment? Who do you represent and why are you here?”

“My unit is from the Oberon Confederation . . .”

“Great” she spat, “more pirates!”

“Not pirates” replied Dunn, mildly, “soldiers! Look, we’re not the enemy here. If I’d intended you harm you’d be harmed by now. I don’t have as much firepower as the ‘Mech Lance that just left, but I’ve got enough to finish what they started if I wanted.”

“Then why are you here?”

“I don’t know the whole story but the ops briefing said that we’re here to clean out Helmar Valesek’s crew. I brought my squad down here to let you know that a battalion is on its way, including medical and engineering troops to help you get things under control here.” He checked the time. “Their ETA is seventeen minutes.”

“So you’re here to get rid of Valesek, huh? Then what?”

“Not my responsibility, lady. I just find ‘em so the line grunts can kill ‘em. Major Snow’s coming up with the 52nd Battalion. He’ll know more about what’s going on. You can ask him if you’re still here.”

She stared hard at him for a few seconds then lowered her weapon. “There’s an old saying, Lieutenant, ‘better the devil you know than the one you don’t.’ But I’ve lived with Valesek’s murdering bastards holding my world hostage most of my life. I lost my mother and father to him. I guess I’ll have to take my chances with a new devil.” She stuck out her hand “I’m Group Leader Lucinda Sanchez. I’m with the resistance.”

* * *

The engineers had done a quick job of extinguishing the remaining fires and several first aid and surgical stations had already been established before the last elements of the 52nd Battalion arrived in town. Major Snow took a quick report from Lieutenant Dunn and then ordered the armor and infantry of Beta, Gamma, and Delta Companies to deploy in a series of battle positions to the north and east, retaining Alpha Company’s ‘Mech Lances close to the town. After introducing Lucinda Sanchez to the Major, Lieutenant Dunn got his platoon moving and continued his interrupted mission.

“We were briefed on the opposition to Valesek’s rule before we left Oberon, Ms. Sanchez,” said the Major. He waved the woman to a chair in the office he had temporarily appropriated as his headquarters, “and I took the opportunity to review my data base when I was informed that a representative of the resistance was in Watertown. As we understand there is no formal, organized planetary resistance structure, but rather a number of independent factions each with its own leaders and goals. Which faction do you represent?”

“Your information is more than a year out of date, Major,” replied Sanchez. “There are still a couple of small splinter groups but most of the resistance is concentrated in our organization.”

“Really? What brought about that change? Has Valesek’s rule become more difficult to tolerate?”

“No. He’s as bad as ever, but in the outlands no worse than usual. What we lacked was a leader who knew how to organize and fight. We have a leader now. He’s on his way. I contacted him after talking with your Lieutenant. He's decided that if this is a serious attempt to exterminate Valesek, he needed to know who we are dealing with.”

“Very good, I look forward to meeting him. May I ask his name?”

“Let’s just call him Commander Smith, for now. He’ll decide how much to tell you when he gets here.”

“Suspicious bastards aren’t you!” Snow laughed shortly. “But I guess with Valesek around, it’s the only way to survive. We’ll have it your way for now.” The Major activated a map projector on the table, displaying a three-dimensional map of the region. “Now, as a gesture of good faith, I’ll tell you that I’ve deployed most of my force here, north-east of the town, between us and Santander City. I can also tell you that the balance of the 5th Confederation Guards Regiment is moving to link up with us here and Watertown will be the operational center for any further actions we take. I understand you have several teams of partisans in town?” Sanchez nodded briefly but did not offer any further information, so Snow continued, “As a gesture of your good faith I would like you to deploy your teams to the west, both as a precaution against surprise and to reduce the number of armed civilians in the town.”

“Alright, Major.” said Sanchez. Taking a small communication unit from a belt pouch she issued the appropriate instructions. “Any further tactical considerations will have to be discussed with the Commander.”

“Good enough. When do you expect him?” asked Snow.

“Its difficult to say, what with Valesek’s men active because of your assault, but no more than three hours. I’ll stay handy in case something happens or should you need me.”

* * *

By the time the small convoy containing the mysterious Commander Smith arrived, the final elements of the Regiment’s 51st and 52nd Battalions had taken up their positions around the town and the day was moving rapidly toward sunset. The small ground car and three cargo carriers that made up the convoy were battered and dilapidated to the point that the troops watching them come in were amazed they were still capable of movement. Colonel Kane, Major Snow, and Major Tracy King, the Regiment’s Exec, watched from the office noting with satisfaction that the vehicles did not stop in a crowd but spread out so as not to present a tempting target.

“Someone in there has some military training, or just common sense.” Said Snow. “Must be the mysterious ‘Commander Smith’.”

“Must be. Why don’t you go down and meet him, Al?” said Kane. “I’m sure he was told to expect you. And send in Lieutenant Franco, will you?”

The Colonel continued to watch the new arrivals as about twenty men and women, all dressed dark civilian clothing, climbed from the vehicles. He noted a some military weapons among the group, including a couple of light SRM launchers, along with more civilian style small arms. The partisans kept their weapons slung and were careful to make no overtly hostile move. Although most of Kane’s troops were deployed in the hills the shadowy outlines of a half-dozen or more BattleMechs could be seen in the fading light.

Lieutenant Franco, commander of the HQ security platoon, came in and saluted. “You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Yeah, Al. I want you to keep a tight perimeter tonight, just in case. I’m going to sound out this resistance leader but I don’t want any trouble.”

“We’re on it, Colonel, “ she replied, “there’s a standard four point security perimeter already established around your headquarters with OPs out and two carriers will be manned and ready at all times. There won’t be any surprises.”

Major Snow came in escorting a lightly built man who appeared to be in his mid-thirties. Dressed in dark, casual civilian clothing he managed, none the less, to give the impression of being in uniform. Sanchez was also with them. Major Snow made the introductions as Franco left the room.

“Commander Smith, Group Leader Sanchez, this is Colonel Vincent Kane, commanding the 5th Confederation Guards, and Major Tracy King, Executive Officer. Colonel Kane, Major King, may I present Commander Smith, leader of the Santander resistance, and Group Leader Sanchez.” The two men shook hands briefly while sizing each other up.

“A pleasure to meet you, Commander,” said Kane. “Would you have a seat?” Turning to his orderly he asked that coffee be brought in. “And ask Major Kozlowski to join us if he’s free.”

Major King continued to stand near the window as Commander Smith and Major Snow took seats across the table from the Colonel, who immediately got down to business. “Commander, I’m sure you have many questions to ask of me, both military and political, but before we go on I need to know that I am really dealing with the legitimate leader of the resistance. Naturally, we are going to have some difficulty trusting each other but I believe that our side has demonstrated its good faith by allowing your partisans to keep their weapons and join in the defense of the town. In addition, Major Snow was as forthcoming as he could be about his troop dispositions when speaking with your lieutenant, Ms. Sanchez.”

“What do you need to know, Colonel?”

“Well, you could start with your name.” Said Major King, who disliked these little cloak and dagger ploys.

“Ha!” he laughed, “I’m afraid you’ve become the unwilling participant of a running joke among my associates. The name really is Smith.”

“Then perhaps a little personal background. How you came to be the leader of the resistance.” suggested Kane.

“Certainly, Colonel. I’ve been a mercenary for most of my life, after a stint in the army of the Free Worlds League. In my last unit, Johnston's Irregulars, I commanded a ‘Mech Lance until my Jenner was destroyed and I was posted to command of the Irregular’s Support Company. The Support Company had crap for equipment but it was the best I could do until I gained a new ‘Mech.”

Interrupted by the orderly with the coffee, the pause allowed Major Kozlowski to join them. Taking a drink of the steaming liquid Smith leaned back with a sigh of contentment. “Valesek has halted the flow of supplies to the outlying regions for the past several years.” He said as explanation. “We have a locally grown substitute but this is the first real coffee I’ve had in a standard year.”

“To continue, the Irregulars had been employed by the Draconis Combine pulling duty as garrison for some backwater planet out near the rim with a mineral extraction operation on it. It seemed small scale, but what we didn’t know was that the mineral being extracted was platinum. I guess the Combine figured that secrecy was better than a strong garrison. Some pirate outfit found out about the operation, however, and they got the jump on us. The Scorpion light tank I was in was hit by autocannon fire and went up like a firecracker and the rest of the outfit was really chewed up. Most of the officers were killed, or like me, badly wounded and out of it. Command of what was left devolved to one of the unit’s bad apples, a Lieutenant Jorgensen. He convinced the remaining troops that the Combine was going to be real unhappy with us since we had let ourselves be surprised and beaten by these pirates. Now the refinery was smashed and the stock of platinum was gone and we would be held responsible.”

“He convinced them that the only option was to seek refuge in the Periphery until the storm blew over and that he knew the perfect place, Santander V. The handful that objected were quickly shouted down and the decision was made. They hijacked a civilian dropship,” said Smith, shaking his head, “which really made us outlaws, and somehow arranged transport with a jumpship at the system jump point. Like I said, I was out for most of this; coming to after we arrived on Santander V.”

He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table giving Kane a hard look. “I had heard of Valesek, of course, but seeing his operation up close sickened me. Some of the less enthusiastic of our men had been killed when we arrived, so I kept quiet and seemed to play along. It was a couple of months before they relaxed their guard enough for me to slip away into the countryside. I’m sure many of my former comrades would have liked to go with me but Valesek had informers everywhere and I just couldn’t chance it.”

“After that, it was just a matter of time before one of the resistance groups found me. They were suspicious at first, of course - I’ve got the scars to prove it - but I was able to convince them that I had no more love for Valesek than they did. And, they needed my experience. They’re enthusiastic and patriotic, but they had little or no military training. With my experience we began to gain a few successes. A dozen more members of the irregulars were able to join us and one by one the different groups sought us out because of our success and eventually threw in with us. I don’t really concern myself with the political side of the resistance - there’s a committee that handles that. I’ve just spent the last two years or so reorganizing, training, and trying my best to be a pain in Valesek’s side.”

Smith sat back, “Actually, the attack on Watertown that you halted was a response to our increasing effectiveness. A week back we were able to ambush a convoy of Valesek’s that was transporting plundered supplies back to Santander City. The escort chased us off pretty fast but not before we had inflicted significant damage. Valesek sent a Lance of his BattleMechs to torch Watertown in retaliation.”

“Why did he send ‘Mechs, Commander?” asked Major Snow. “We know that he has a couple of battalions of conventional troops available, why not use them?”

“Let’s just say that the loyalty and effectiveness of the Guard and Border Battalions is questionable.” He looked at Colonel Kane. “Well, Colonel? That’s my story, and a little of our recent history. Good enough for you?”

“Good enough, Commander. I’ll need to establish contact with the civilian committee you mentioned, at some point, but I’ll deal with you for the present and in all military matters.” He stood and extended his hand. “I believe we’ll work well together.”

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Post by RyanGrimm » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:12 am

Code: Select all

- Chapter Two -

The first light of dawn was just making its presence felt in the small room when Major King entered with the activity reports from the previous night.  “Everything was pretty quiet last night, Vince.” She reported to the Colonel.  “1st and 2nd Battalions have completed their primary defensive positions and are continuing today to prepare alternate positions, as ordered.  Recon finished their initial inspection of Santander City just before dawn and are moving into hide positions now.  3rd Heavy’s about a half-hour south with the headquarters and support elements - they should be in place by noon.  Once they are, I’ve instructed Captain Freeman to get a couple of his lances up to make a flyby of the western towns, just to make sure none of Valesek’s pirates are missing.”
	
“Make it a single lance, Trace, and tell them to stay well clear of the city itself.  I don’t want to tip off Valesek that we have air assets available.”
	
“Will do, Chief.”  She handed a printout to the Colonel.  “This is from Commander Smith.  If he was forthcoming about his assets I must admit they’re a little disappointing.  He’s called in about one hundred of his partisans, in four groups, what he calls the 1st Commando.  He says that’s about a third of his force and all that is immediately available.  I had no idea that the resistance effort was so small scale.”
	
“Doesn’t really surprise me, Trace” responded the Colonel.  “The total population of Santander V is only about twelve thousand and most of that is in Santander City.  That means a population of only five thousand to draw on of which, less than fifteen hundred would be available for military service, male and female.  I’d say that two or three hundred full-time partisans is doing pretty good.”
	
“True.  By the way,” said the Major, “Sanchez suggested that a couple of her partisans be attached to our scouts as guides as they make their approach to the city.  It sounded like a good idea and they’re moving to link up now.  Commander Smith will be over after he gets the rest of his men in place.”

*          *          *	
Colonel Kane met Commander Smith outside the headquarters building.  “Commander, why don’t you ride with me?”  The two men climbed into a military ground car, still known for some reason as a “jeep”, and as the driver pulled away two armored fighting vehicles moved into position in front of and behind the vehicle.  “I’m going out to check our positions and it will give me a chance to answer the questions we didn’t get to last night.
	
”Thank you, Colonel.  I must admit, my knowledge of the politics in this region of space is limited and I always sort of lumped the so-called “pirate kingdoms” into one group.  That being said, my biggest question is why you are here?”
	
Kane laughed a little then said, “Don’t let it bother you, Commander.  Not so long ago you’d have been about right – there was little to choose between the Oberon Confederation and the rest of the pirate strongholds, other than the fact that we were bigger.  Most people from the Inner Sphere still think “pirate” but the Confederation is changing.  For the past thirty years the Confederation has been moving steadily towards legitimacy.  Each of our ten worlds has some form of democratic representation, there’s a public health care and education system in place, benefits for state employees, and we’re almost totally self-sufficient, at least in all the areas that really count.”
	
“Impressive, but it doesn’t answer the basic question of why you’re here.”  said Smith.

“Well, aside from the normal personal reaction to a bastard like Valasek there are adverse political and military consequences to his actions.  The major powers of the Inner-Sphere often don’t take the time to distinguish between the little states up here and the Confederation sometimes bears the brunt of their reaction to Valasek’s activities.  The Consul-General, Ryan Grimm, decided that it was time to take him out and selected my unit to do the job.

“That leads to my second question, Colonel.”  Said Smith.  “Your forces seem to be a little light for the job ahead of you, what with what I’ve seen and what has been reported to me.  I know you command the “5th Regiment”, but we’ve only seen about two dozen ‘Mechs plus your support troops.  You may not want to discuss organization with me but it would help me understand how my forces can assist yours if I know what I’m dealing with.”

“Not a problem, Commander.  I’ll be happy to fill you in.  Actually, this is also something that Consul-General Grimm is responsible for.  The Consul spent most of his life as a soldier, including some time as a mercenary, and his experiences convinced him that the Confederation’s military needed some serious shaking up.  He and I have been friends for a long time and served together on a number of occasions, so I knew where he was coming from, but it took me a while to get used to the new structure.  Colonel Grimm was convinced that combined arms operations were the key to the future.  Although trained as a MechWarrior, he believed his contemporaries were underrating the capability of conventional arms.  He wanted the combined arms concept applied at the lowest practical level.  He’d worked with the Federated-Commonwealth and their huge Regimental Combat Teams did not impress him.”

“So now, a Regiment like mine is the standard operational element of the Confederation.  It’s a combined arms regiment with a reduced BattleMech complement.  I’ve got two mixed battalions of medium BattleMechs, Tanks, and Infantry and a heavy battalion, plus my Command Platoon and a mixed Reconnaissance Group.  At full strength we deploy a little less than three companies of ‘Mechs, four of armor, and four of infantry.”

“Let me get this straight, Colonel,” said Smith with a note of surprise in his voice, “you’re telling me that you’ve staged a planetary assault with just less than a battalion of ‘Mechs?  You know that Valesek has a full Battalion, including an Assault Lance, plus his conventional forces and static defenses!”

Kane grinned.  “Well, we also have supporting companies of engineers, artillery, and conventional fighters.  It’ll be enough.  Trying to send any more would have tipped him off that the invasion was coming and that might have let him get away or have time to button up pretty tight.  Now we’ve surprised him and we’ll be at his throat before he has much time to react.”  

Just then, the jeep’s communication system chirped and the Colonel quickly donned a headset.  After listening for a few moments he looked at Smith and said grimly, “Looks like we’re hot.  Valasek’s got that Borderer Battalion of his heading south and they’re going to run into my recon task force in the hills just outside Santander City!”

*          *          *

Lieutenant Dunn ignored the volley of missiles that arced over his position, keeping his field glasses on the oncoming troops.  Lucinda Sanchez, sprawled beside him, couldn’t suppress the reflex to duck.  Less than a thousand meters away he could see a half-dozen platoons of motorized infantry moving in column along a dusty road from the town toward the hills and woodline his scouts occupied.  In the middle of the oncoming infantry, four armored vehicles, two Scorpion and two Hunter light tanks moved in support.

Dunn’s platoon had arrived at their assembly point less than an hour ago, and, leaving their armored vehicles a few hundred meters behind, had quickly occupied concealed squad positions overlooking Santander City.  A couple of klicks to the east, on the other side of the road, Fourth Platoon occupied a similar position.  With the city less than ten klicks distance there was no chance that Valasek would be able to send troops out of the city, or even to the spaceport, without their being spotted.  In the meantime, Captain Tony Wayne, commanding the Recon Company, kept his two lances of light ‘Mechs in hidden postions behine the scouts.  The arrangements had scarcely been completed when Valasek’s troops moved out.

For Dunn the upcoming battle would most likely be a spectator’s sport.  Unless an enemy unit stumbled right over one of his squads he had orders not to engage.  Whatever happened, the scouts were to hold to their concealed positions and continue to observe.  Even so, when Captain Wayne ordered the supporting carriers to open fire, Dunn and his men became a little itchy.

As the enemy entered extreme range, the four CavScout armored reconnaissance vehicles, each mounting a pair of LRM-5 launcher, opened up with indirect fire guided by the concealed scout squads.  At that range, against the spread out infantry, little damage was inflicted but now the enemy knew they faced opposition.  The unexpected encounter, especially this close to the city, threw the enemy into confusion.  Using quads, motor bikes, and light vehicles, the motorized platoons hastily deployed and tried to close with their unseen enemy.  As they approached the line of low hills that made up the Dunn’s position Captain Wayne ordered a section of ‘Mechs, hidden below the crest of the hill on the right flank, to advance.  The two ‘Mechs were light 35 ton Lancers but they easily overmatched the motorized infantry platoon they surprised in the open.  In a matter of moments the platoon had been broken, its scattered remnants fleeing toward the city.  Dodging an SRM salvo the Confederation ‘Mechs closed on the next enemy platoon.

Lieutenant Dunn watched as the four armored vehicles supporting the enemy infantry, probably their Command Lance, altered direction and headed for the Confederation’s ‘Mechs.  Armed with LRMs and light autocannon, fire from the vehicles resulted in several hits but did not halt the ‘Mechs movement.  It did, however, change their target, as the ‘Mechs decided to ignore the infantry and eliminate the armored vehicles.  Surprisingly, considering the opposition, the opposing infantry continued to close and as they came over the crest two platoons were able to open fire on Wayne’s Command Lance, hidden behind the hill, using their portable SRM launchers.  One Lancer was hit by several SRMs but escaped major damage.  Reacting quickly the Captain brought his lance to point blank range and raked the infantry with laser fire.  Supporting minigun fire from a CavScout section aided in driving the infantry back.

For a few moments Sergeant Dunn thought that he and his men would be able to take part in the battle after all, as an enemy platoon closed on his position.  At the last minute, however, the infantry was attacked by Wayne’s remaining ‘Mech section, moving up on Dunn’s left.  A hail of missiles and laser fire stopped the attack and the infantry were quickly overrun.  In fact, as Sergeant Dunn continued to observe, it appeared that the enemy commander had decided that the opposition was too much.  With two platoons already eliminated and another badly mauled, the enemy began to break contact.  Seeing the enemy pulling back Captain Wayne instructed his ‘Mechs and vehicles to ignore the infantry and concentrate on the retreating armor.  One Scorpion was already smoking and smashed from several laser hits and as the ‘Mechs concentrated their fire, the other Scorpion was destroyed.  As the two remaining Strikers attempted to escape one vanished in an ammunition explosion, the result of a LRM shot from extreme range.

Only a report from one of the scout squads that a company of BattleMechs had left Santander City and were headed in their direction halted the slaughter.  Calling off his pursuit Captain Wayne gathered his eight ‘Mechs, none of which had suffured any significant damage, and the four CavScouts of Dunn’s platoon, and withdrew to the south.  The two scout platoons remained in their concealed positions, as did fourth platoon’s vehicles.

Lieutenant Dunn watched as the enemy ‘Mechs passed over the recent battlefield and disappeared south.  Ten ‘Mechs - one a heavy.  He reported the force composition to Captain Wayne and made a quick note to include in his report.  It looked like he was going to miss another battle.  But, that was the lot of a scout.
*          *          *

“Recon Leader, this is Recon Two.”

“Go ahead, Recon Two.”

“They’re still pushing as fast as they can, sir.  A pair of lights, a Wasp and a Locust, tried to close the distance but fell back again when we opened fire.  It looks like their trail lance is falling behind – the Enforcer is slowing them down – but the other two lances aren’t waiting.”

“Recon Two, how much distance between the trail lance and the main body?”

“Looks to be more than five minutes now and increasing quickly.”

Captain Wayne was silent for a moment as he visualized the tactical situation.  His force had broken off the fight after the skirmish outside Santander City but after sending the vehicles ahead had maintained contact with their pursuers using a trailing lance of ‘Mechs.  The enemy’s pursuit had been cautious for the first several klicks but now they were pushing the pace, trying to catch their quarry before they were able to reach Watertown.  Wayne’s ‘Mechs were currently about twenty klicks from the Battle Group’s main positions with the four scout vehicles a few klicks ahead.  That was about another thirty minutes at their current pace with Valesek’s company another fifteen minutes behind.  Coming to a quick decision he went back on the command channel. “Recon Two close-up with us as normal, continue observation.”

“Rodger, Recon Leader!”

He then called ahead to the carrier sections.  “Recon Three-Two, this is Recon Leader, have you passed any position suitable for a hasty ambush – something we can set up in the next ten minutes?”

“That’s affirmative, Recon Leader,” came the response, “we marked a deep ravine just a couple of minutes ago, about two-hundred meters off our line of march.  It’s heavily overgrown with scrub and we almost didn’t see it.  It’s broken and shallow in some places but there’s enough room to hide ‘Mechs if you kneel, and the vehicles can take the shallows.”

“Roger, Three-Two.  Hold your current position and wait for instructions.”  Without waiting for their affirmatives Wayne switched to the Regimental command channel.  “Five Command, this is Recon Leader, let me talk to Five Leader!”

“Roger, Recon Leader, wait one.” 

Colonel Kane was quickly on the line.  “Go ahead, Recon Leader!”
	
“Sir, they’re getting sloppy with their pursuit.  They’ve split into two groups and the trail group is at least ten minutes behind the main.  I’ve got a good location for a hasty ambush – relaying map coordinates now - and I think we can give them a bloody nose, if you’ll let me, sir!”
	
“Recon Leader, what’s the strength of the main body you want to ambush?”

“Seven ‘Mechs, sir - two light and five medium.  If we get the jump on them I think we can do significant damage before they can react.”

Kane, who by this time had reached the headquarters of Major Snow’s 52nd Battalion, punched up a map on the jeep’s comm-screen showing the reported positions of his elements and the estimated positions of the enemy.  Commander Smith looked on with interest as the Colonel checked his watch and calculated times.   Major Snow, who as standing nearby, said, “Colonel, that’s not too far from my perimeter.  Captain Tommovitch’s ‘Mechs are down on that end - they can get there in about fifteen minutes.”

“Recon Leader, your action is approved.  A lpha Five-Two will move to link up with you or cover your withdrawal as needed.”  He paused, “Use good judgment, Captain, its still early in the fight!”

“Roger, Five Leader.  Recon Leader, out!”

Captain Wayne quickly issued orders and the well-trained elements of his Command Lance and the Carrier Platoon were in their ambush positions with a minimum of delay.  His eight 35 ton Lancers had sustained only light damage in the battle outside Santander City and he also had the four CavScouts, but to execute the ambush his second ‘Mech lance would have to lead the pursuing ‘Mechs past his position - taking them out of the fight for short but crucial period of time.  A dismounted crewman from one of the carriers crouched in a concealed position and relayed a remote signal to Wayne’s command console.  As he watched the approaching enemy, Tony felt a moment of trepidation as he considered the odds.  Those seven approaching ‘Mechs totaled three hundred tons - his eight only two hundred and eighty - almost even.  But you tried to avoid even odds in battle - even when you won you would usually take quite a knock.  It was pushing the edge and he would have to trust to surprise, superior training, and motivation to hit them hard before they could react.  Suppressing his worry, Tony watched closely to judge the right moment to spring the trap.

As his second lance passed his position Captain Wayne watched the enemy come on in two small clusters.  On the right, and a little ahead, a Phoenix Hawk trailed a Wasp and Locust through the tall grass.  On the left and a little behind, but still closer to Wayne’s position, a Trebuchet, a Dervish, and a pair of Griffins, medium ‘Mechs all, pushed cautiously forward.  The left-hand group was less than a three hundred meters away when Captain Wayne led his ‘Mechs up and to the attack.

Captain Wayne had quickly determined that the smaller of the enemy lances, containing as it did two light ‘Mechs of limited combat effectiveness, was of lesser importance and led his ‘Mechs toward the enemy’s medium lance.  The four CavScouts opened fire with their LRMs, engaging the smaller enemy lance.  Since the enemy’s ‘Mechs were dependent of missile fire for a large part of their offense Wayne closed the distance as quickly as possible.  He especially wanted to limit the effectiveness of the PPCs carried by the two Griffins.  With so little distance between them Tony’s squadron was at point blank range before the pirates could react.  Pressing a stud on his joystick the Captain designated the enemy Dervish as the primary target for his ‘Mechs and opened fire.  Only three of his ‘Mechs were in position to engage the designated ‘Mech - even so three ruby red heavy laser beams lanced out, along with double that number of lighter medium lasers.  The Dervish staggered under this firestorm as armor was blasted away.  One well aimed laser shot penetrated into the ‘Mechs internals, damaging the actuators on the right leg.  The effect was immediate as the Dervish’s pilot struggled to keep his ‘Mech upright and moving.  The Trebuchet also took minor damage from Confederation ‘Mechs that could not target the Dervish, but the two Griffins managed to avoid any damage.

The sudden appearance of four ‘Mechs, seeming as they did to materialize like magic out of the grass, threw the pirates into confusion and their initial response to the Confederation ‘Mech’s assault was ragged.  As the pirates recovered from their surprise their return fire began to score hits but the short range and the speed of the Confederation ‘Mechs made getting a firing lock difficult.  Wayne’s ‘Mechs passed through the pirate lance and skidded around to reengage.  As they turned, some of his ‘Mechs were able to target the enemy’s light lance.

Wayne saw that his scout vehicles were already engaging the pirates at close range - one CavScout was stopped and smoking and another was trying to limp out of the fight.  The twenty-ton hover vehicles were designed for fire-support rather than close combat and their moderate speed was little defense to even the comparatively light fire they were receiving.  Wayne’s eyebrows went up as his thermal imagers noted an increase in heat from the lightly damaged Phoenix Hawk.  One of the vehicles had managed to damage some heat sinks, or maybe even the ‘Mech’s fusion engine.  As Wayne’s second ‘Mech Lance returned to the field he ordered them to engage the damaged Phoenix Hawk.   The pirate ‘Mech seemed to disappear under a hail of fire and the Confederation ‘Mechs and vehicles were forced to scatter as the enemy pilot punched out of his cockpit moments before the safeties failed and his engine exploded.

One down, Tony thought.  Ordering the two remaining vehicles to try to keep the Locust and Wasp at bay he concentrated all eight of his ‘Mechs the pirate mediums.  For the next several minutes the battle came down to a toe to toe slugging match.  The four pirate ‘Mechs were individually heavier and more powerful but their struggle to keep their heat at reasonable levels and the short range hampered their efforts.  Captain Wayne ordered his pilots to avoid using their LRMs, allowing his ‘Mech’s heat sinks to more easily handle the heat from the remaining laser fire.  Concentrating most of their fire on the heavier Trebuchet and Dervish, the Confederation ‘Mechs were able to dish out considerable punishment.  At the same time, Sergeant Mackie’s Lancer was suffering heavily from the enemy’s return fire.  Already damaged in the previous fight the ‘Mech was quickly in trouble and as Wayne watched, a PPC bolt from one of the Griffins punched through the shredded armor of the ‘Mechs torso.  Wayne ordered it out of the fight but by that time it was too late and after a final shudder the riddled ‘Mech toppled slowly to the ground.  Tony was glad to see that Mackie had ejected safely but was soon occupied with other matters.
	
With the Trebuchet and Dervish badly damaged and the Phoenix Hawk destroyed the enemy was attempting to fall back on their approaching reserve lance that had just made its appearance on the battlefield.  Captain Wayne knew that just another few minutes could finish the two enemy mediums but had to time his withdrawal just right.  The oncoming ‘Mechs included a sixty-ton Ostsol and his own ‘Mechs were taking too much punishment too early in the campaign.  The pirates Dervish and Griffins were able to use their jump jets to break contact more easily - the Trebuchet, lacking jets and reluctant to expose its lighter rear armor, was having a more difficult time.  Ordering his ‘Mechs to shift their fire they were able to overwhelm the damaged Trebuchet, turning away just as wave of long-range missiles slammed into the ground less than a hundred meters short of their position.
	
As his battered force began to withdraw Wayne took a quick situation report noting that the second CavScout was missing and that Sergeant Corey’s Lancer was dragging behind, having suffered heavy damage.  In fact, the LRM fire was getting dangerously close to the damaged ‘Mech and it was beginning to appear that it might have to be abandoned when Wayne’s comm unit crackled.

“Recon Leader, this is Alpha Five-Two Leader.  Are these guys bothering you?”

The appearance of Captain Tommovich’s fresh company, with its eight fifty-ton Dragoons, brought the pirate pursuit to a quick halt.  As the enemy faded off in the direction they had come Wayne was able to breathe a sigh of relief.  It had been close, but they had pulled it off.  “Gamma Five-Two Leader this is Recon Leader.  They were becoming a little annoying but it seems big brother scared them off.  Thanks!  All Recon elements, this is Recon leader.  Good job, now let’s take it home!”

*          *          *
	
“Captain Wayne reports that the enemy has broken contact and is falling back to Santander City.”
	
“The battle went well for you?” asked Commander Smith.

“It was just a first engagement, but yes.” replied Kane.  “The skirmish outside the city eliminated at least three platoons of the Borderer’s infantry and what appears to be the Battalion Command Lance was just about destroyed – only a single vehicle escaped and that was damaged.  I don’t think we’ll need to include the Borderers in any future planning.  And Valasek lost two medium ‘Mechs destroyed and two badly damaged in this second engagement.  We lost a light ‘Mech and two more suffered heavy damage..  The others suffered only light to moderate damage and they’ll rotate into the workshops over the next couple of days. ”

After a moments thought, the Colonel continued.  “Now, we have two problems.  We need to force Valasek to attack us in our current position.  He’s still too strong for us to go into the city after him without incurring heavy casualties, but he has no reason to come out.  Plus, we’ve got to deal with the hostage situation.”

“Perhaps we can help, Colonel.” said Smith.  “As long as he thinks he’s secure and has supplies to last, Valasek will stay holed up.  He’s done it before.  He doesn’t care if raiders or regular forces ravage the countryside because he never counted on our support anyway.  The way to get him nervous is to attack him in the city and make him think he’s losing control of the population.  Maybe we can accomplish that at the same time we deal with the hostage situation.”

“What did you have in mind, Commander?”