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Fighting Uphill (Chapter Cover Art)

Fighting Uphill - Chapter 12[]

* Moving In Behind You​​​ *[]

Planetary Assault: Helm[]

15th July, 3013
Helm System
Free Worlds League

Three Dropships burned towards the planet Helm. One was a Leopard carrying an elite recon lance of mechs. The other two were assault Dropships, bigger and faster and toting far more firepower than the I; their job was to make sure the Leopard got to the ground intact and then try to survive as long as possible afterwards. They had been sent ahead of the combine Capellan/Duncan force, hopping between commercial Jumpship transports in order to arrive several days in advance of the main body. The bulk of Duncan's and Candace's army all had to use the same jumpships for the ensure that they arrived at Helm as a single unit instead of small, easily destroyed chunks.

Dropship Re-entry

Dropship descending into the atmosphere.

Although perhaps they need not have worried. As the three Dropships approached the planet, there was already an ongoing battle in Helm Orbit as assault Dropships and Monitors belonging to the Free Worlds League, Lyran Commonwealth, and Draconis Combine dueled with each other in orbit. Curiously, the FWLM dropships belonging to the Janos and Anton factions mostly avoided engaging each other in favor of attacking each others' Steiner and Kuritan allies.

This allowed the Leopard to insert itself into Helm's atmosphere almost completely unmolested. The assault dropships wisely avoided butting into the orbital battle and assumed high parking orbits where they could sit back and observe without the risk of being shot at.

Leopard Class DropShip (Pickup) (Farseer Animation)

Leopard Class Dropship unloading troops while hovering.

Things get Complicated[]

27th July, 3013
Free Worlds League

Thank Blake for Lithium Fusion Batteries, Candace thought not for the first time. It was 8 jumps from Oriente to Helm. Without Lithium Fusion Battery technology, it would have taken Candace's and Duncan's joint army two months to reach Helm instead of one, which would likely have been far too late to secure the Helm cache.

Even so, Candace's scouts reported that Janos' and Anton's forces were already clashing on the ground around the hidden Star League base. Steiner employed mercenaries were holed up inside the base itself and weren't letting anyone from either side in, apparently on orders from Archon Allessandro Steiner himself. Both of Janos' and Anton's space forces had battered themselves to near non-existence. All that remained of them in Helm orbit were a handful of heavily damaged Dropships on both sides that Candace's and Duncan's fresh aerospace forces could easily sweep aside.

Which meant that that arriving late but not too late would make this a cake walk for Candace and Duncan. Establish orbital supremacy with naval energy weapon armed monitors and the Janos' and Anton's ground forces would almost certainly have to concede or be destroyed by orbital bombardment...

"Candy." Duncan called from his own flagship. "Commodore Brennan," that was the FWLM officer in command of their joint fleets, "reports that Steiner Jumpships have appeared at the zenith jump point. Their Dropships are already inbound."

"More Lyrans?" Candace asked, surprised. "Where did they come from?"

"Brennan says they're Donegal Guards." Duncan replied. That was a surprise too; as far as Candace knew, none of the forces on loan to Janos were from the Lyrans' Donegal Guards. "He says that they must have come straight from Lyran space."

"Of course, Helm is almost right on the Lyran border." Candace said in realization. "I should have expected this. Of course Allessandro wants that cache as much as everyone else and he's best placed to rush in reinforcements immediately."

"How do you want to handle this?" Duncan asked. Before they had even left Oriente, Candace had made sure that Duncan understood in no uncertain terms that she was in charge of military operations. They could discuss policy and dividing up the cache as equals, but when it came to on the ground tactical decisions, Candace was going to be the one in charge. Duncan had agreed reluctantly, two and half years of field exercises – some of them against Candace herself – had made him realize how much of a neophyte to field strategy he really was. Or at least it made him realize that Candace was better at it given that Candace was two years younger than him and didn't have all that much actual field experience herself.

"We have two days on the Donegal Guards." Candace said, thinking furiously. "We go in, take out Janos' and Anton's forces as fast as possible, secure the cache and try to get it all out before the Donegal Guards reach Helm."

"In two days?" Duncan asked in amazement. If there's one thing that putting the Helm expedition together had given him, it was an appreciation of just how much time it took to get an army moving from zero starting preparation even when everyone was in a hurry. It wasn't just about moving soldiers and mechs aboard Dropships. It was also making sure that they had all the supplies they needed for the voyage and ammo for the potential battles at the end of it. The thought about trying to haul away Blake only knew how many mechs and other vehicles in less than two days looked outright impossible on the face of it.

"I know. It probably can't be done." Candace agreed. "We're likely going to have to fight it out on the ground."

"Well, there's still a positive side to all this." Duncan said whimsically.

"What's that?" Candace asked.

"There's no sign that any of Robert's forces have arrived yet." Duncan told her. "If Robert learned about Helm at the same time we did, it'll take him at least another week or two to arrive here. One way or another, this should be over by then, so we won't have to fight him too."

Unexpected Guests[]

28th July, 3013
Nadir Jump Point, Oriente System
Free Worlds League

"Jump complete, your highness."

"Thank you, Captain." Hanse Davion, heir to the Federated Suns – at least until his brother got around to marrying and producing a child of his own." – replied graciously. Hanse commanded the joint forces of the Federated Suns and Robert Marik's forces in the Free Worlds League, and he knew damn well that there was no way he could reach Helm before everyone else looted the place clean. So Hanse wasn't even going to try.

Instead, Hanse figured that everyone was going to take everything they could to secure the Helm cache and leave only the bare minimum defense behind at their respective headquarters. That would still make them tough nuts to crack, but it also meant that it was extremely unlikely that anyone was going to attack Hanse's headquarters. So in a daring move, Hanse had stripped his headquarters planet of every defense except the static ones which should easily fend off the average pirate raid, and split them up into two forces. Robert Marik was sent off to attack Janos' headquarters planet, and Hanse was personally leading the attack on Duncan's. Anton's base was sadly out of reach, being even further away from Hanse's base than Helm.

If the defenses weren't as stripped down as Hanse thought they were, then then the attack forces could just turn around and go home without firing a shot. But if they were as stripped down as Hanse thought they were, then his attack forces could blow right through them and reduce their entire industrial complexes into so much rubble. No amount of Star League era mechs were going to help Janos and Duncan Marik if they didn't have facilities to refit then and put them back into operation again, and their campaigns would be dealt a lethal blow.

"Release all the Dropships." Hanse ordered, "Let's go see what Candace left for us to play with."

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