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Operation: Crucible

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Military Depot 187
Outskirts of Gellen's Heights, Sheratan
February 24, 3029

"All right, cadre, come to order." The crisp voice of Major Walker of the Tikonov Republican Guards echoed across the briefing hall, reducing the lively chatter of the gathered recruits to soft murmurs, then whispers, and finally, silence.

"Over the last nine weeks, we've taught you the military pinciples of the Tikonov Free Republic. We've given you key doctrine training from the Sarna Martial Academy; we've shown you the strategies of the masters from the Capellan Confederation Armed Forces, and we've transformed you from a loosely-organized planetary militia into a cohesive fighting force. You've almost earned the right to call yourselves Sheratan Knights. Almost."

"You're probably wondering why, two days before graduation, you're sitting in this run-down, derelict depot. Well, before we can certify you, there's one last exercise that all cadets must complete. An absolute non-negotiable task that will convince us that you've got your head screwed on right and know how to apply everything we've taught you. It's a live-fire exercise called Operation Crucible. Somebody hit the lights, please."

The hall's illumination dimmed. Simultaneously, a projector chattered to life and displayed a mission overview behind the hall's lectern, complete with a computer-generated rendering of the depot showing force compositions and positions.

"I know we've kept you all on a very short leash as we've been getting you acclimated to being a lean, mean, fighting force. Today, we're going to take the safeties off and let you do all the driving.

"This exercise will be about more than just vaporizing targets. You will be charged with two objectives - defense and annexation. We're going to split you into two lances - Anvil Lance and Hammer Lance - and we'll see how well you can coordinate between each other.

"Your primary objective will be to reach and defend Camp Athena, an outpost two kilometers due East of your deployment zone. There are four structures within the camp, and at least two of the four must survive. While we're being generous with that figure, I expect you to do better than a 50% attrition rate.

"Your secondary objective will be to push across the engagement theater and capture Camp Pallas, a base of equal size to Camp Athena, which will be held by the OpFor. To capture the base, you'll need to neutralize all of its defenders and keep one of your units within its perimeter for at least four consecutive rounds of combat."

"Anvil and Hammer lances will both be comprised of a mixture of heavy, medium, and light BattleMechs. We want to provide you with a variety of platforms while not going overboard on the firepower. Don't worry - I'm sure that each of you will get to do a turn in an assault 'Mech in the future.

"The OpFor will be two combined-arms lances of BattleMechs and conventional tanks. They have similar orders to yours - to hold their own outpost while attempting to destroy yours. To make things a little more interesting and unpredictable, we've decided to hire out the command of each defending lance to a separate mercenary company. Warrant Officer Alyssa Chase, from Charles Maxwell's Aegis Division will command the OpFor's Alpha Lance, while Bravo Lance will be managed by Lieutenant Edgar Galloway from Jack Whitley's Black Phalanx Company.

"Now, before you get worked up about blowing up actual people in a training exercise - don't worry. We've brought in some local electronics wizards to rig improvised remote control technology into the OpFor units. While they will most certainly pose a threat to you, you may feel free to dispatch them without worry."

"Victory will be determined when one side or the other loses their base - through destruction or capture - or when one side's fighting force is completely defeated. Any questions? No? Excellent. Time to earn your stripes. We'll see you on the range shortly."


- Incoming Coded Message -- Command Instruction Follows -
- Decode Zulu Protocol - IndigoEpsilon58red: 18th -
- Disseminate by need only -

Operation Codename: Crucible
Planet: Sheratan, Tikonov Free Republic
Terrain: Grasslands / Marsh / Waterfront / Urban
Time: Day


- Protect Camp Athena
-- Two out of four structures must survive.

- Capture Camp Pallas
-- Capture will be successful following neutralization of the camp's defenders and occupation of the base perimeter for at least four consecutive rounds of combat.



1x Heavy BattleMech (Missile Boat)
1x Medium BattleMech (Skirmisher)
1x Medium BattleMech (Skirmisher)
1x Light BattleMech (Scout)

1x Heavy BattleMech (Brawler)
1x Medium BattleMech (Skirmisher)
1x Medium BattleMech (Sniper)
1x Light BattleMech (Scout)


ALPHA LANCE (Aegis Division):
1x Heavy BattleMech (Missile Boat)
1x Heavy Tank
1x Heavy Tank
1x Light BattleMech (Scout)

BRAVO LANCE (Black Phalanx Company):
1x Heavy BattleMech (Brawler)
1x Medium BattleMech (Skirmisher)
1x Heavy Tank
1x Heavy Tank

Planet Details: Sheratan


Star Type: K5V 
Position in System: 5 (of 9) 
Number of Moons: None 
Days to Jump Point: 4 
Recharging Station: Nadir
Recharge Time: 9 days 
ComStar Facility Class: B 
Surface Water: 40% 
Atm. Pressure: Standard (Breathable) 
Surface Gravity: 0.9 
Equatorial Temp: 31� C 
Highest Native Life: Mammal 
Population: 86,000,000 
Governor: Jiayi Chen
Planetary Legate: Shi-Leng Huang


A sparsely inhabited, forest-covered world with thick jungles around the equator, Sheratan is one of the most beautiful planets in the Sarna March. During the invasion, it became one of the most bitterly contested. 

The Sheratan Knights, a single regiment of warriors utterly dedicated to the Federated Commonwealth, defended Sheratan from both invading forces and internal rebellions. The planet had suffered a protracted terrorist campaign by various groups set up and funded by the Capellan secret police since the Fourth Succession War, and so the Knights had superior training in dealing with guerrilla-style warfare. When the Capellan Chancellor ordered his agents on Sheratan into action concurrent with the invasion, bombings and mass shootings became commonplace in Sheratan's few large cities. The Sheratan Knights flushed out and destroyed many of the rebel cells, but the vast forests and dense jungles gave the surviving Liao guerrillas plenty of places to hide. 

The arrival of the Fist of Mokal, mercenaries in the employ of the Free Worlds League, turned the tables in the Liaoists' favor. Seeing that Sheratan was lightly defended, the mercenaries landed in the capital and proclaimed the world a Capellan possession. The enraged Knights converged on the capital and engaged the Fist in a hit-and-run battle, downing several mercenary 'Mechs. Stunned by the attack, Major William Jeffreys ordered two of his mercenary companies to chase the Sheratan Knights into the forests and hunt them down while the third company held the fort in the capital. 

With the aid of the Liao guerrillas, the Fist MechWarriors found and destroyed a battalion of the Knights. The remaining Knights set the forest ablaze, trapping the mercenaries in a burning hell. Major Jeffreys ordered his unit to charge through the flames, but escaped the blaze with only a company left intact. The inferno utterly destroyed the remaining Liao forces. The mercenary company in the capital retaliated by slaying thousands of civilians. When word of the brutal killings got out, the Fist of Mokal's contract was declared null and void and the unit itself was proscribed. 

Before departing from Sheratan, the Fist started some fires of its own. Soon, vast tracts of land across the planet were burning out of control. Unable to cope with the crisis, the planetary government collapsed. Various minor nobles and other charismatic leaders rose up to fill the power vacuum, and numerous petty kings are constantly contending with each other for control of the world. Meanwhile, the fires continue to burn, kept at bay only near the cities. Most of the resources that could be used to fight the fires are instead spent on small-scale warfare between the various factions. Smoke from the huge blazes makes the days hazy and the nights unnaturally dark. 

The Sheratan Knights remain the only potential stabilizing force on the planet, but they control only the shattered capital city of Gellen's Heights and several square kilometers of surrounding territory. Rebel groups funded by the Capellan Confederation still operate on Sheratan, but the departure of the Marik mercenaries has greatly diminished their power. 

Once the emerald jewel in the crown of the Terran Hegemony, Sheratan's surface was a single landmass blanketed by thick forests, lush jungles, and verdant farmland; dotted by a few, large, landlocked seas. Sheratan's ruling family, the Grensons, were staunch supporters of Terra's Cameron family when they assumed leadership of the Terran Hegemony and, later, founded the First Star League. In fact, First Lord Jonathan Cameron married Lady Ludmella Grenson, a connection to the First Star League that Sheratan's population remains proud of to this day. During the fall of the First Star League, on the order of the Usurper Stefan Amaris, the Grenson family was nearly wiped out for its association with the Camerons. With no hereditary rulers, the Capellan Confederation easily claimed Sheratan after the fall of the First Star League.

Aside from its fertile soil, Sheratan lacks significant resources, so Sheratan's small population and agriculture were spared most of the ravages of the Succession Wars. When the Federated Suns invaded the Capellan Confederation at the outset of the Fourth Succession War, Sheratan was one of many Capellan worlds near Terra that were cut off from the Confederation and incorporated in the Tikonov Free Republic.


Today is your day in the spotlight, cadets. Make it an excellent one.





Sender: Major C. Walker
Encryption Priority: HIGH
HPG Relay: None - Delivered in Person
Recieved: OP Comp. 1838 Standard Terran Time
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