This article originally appeared in Jump Point 7.12.
Chapter 3: Operation Oberon
With the recent trend of military defeats, High-Command knew the UEE was losing the Second Tevarin War. Corath’Thal’s guerillas proved too agile and elusive for the lumbering military war machine, and forced civilians to pay the heaviest price. Desperate to turn the tide, Navy officials met with spacecraft manufacturers and offered lucrative contracts for technology that could overcome the Tevarin’s upgraded phalanx shields. The UEE placed thousands of new proximity sensors throughout high-risk systems in an attempt to track roving Tevarin forces and, following Bremen’s lead, worked with the Senate to legislate the creation of local militias to patrol and protect their home systems. While the Army and Navy scrambled to counter the Tevarin’s successful strategy, they at least had a clear purpose. Meanwhile, the Marines struggled to define their role in the war. Their difficulties, however, didn’t exclusively lie with the enemy.
The Army, still stung that the Marines were removed from their command structure decades earlier, argued that they were best suited to battle the Tevarin on land, and repeatedly referenced their victory at Koren Pass as proof. As such, High Command passed any land engagements and operations to the Army to execute. Meanwhile, the Navy refused to provide the small Marine fleet with any new fighters, claiming that their combat pilots needed them, and often assigned old and outdated ships to take Marines into battle. Even Marine numbers were proving difficult to fill. The Army and Navy understood an ascendant Marine force would drain resources and talent from them, so they bitterly fought the Marines’ right to recruit top-tier soldiers from their ranks. Both branches begrudgingly worked with the Marines but remained determined to prove they were the key defenders of the Empire.
This conflict over the Marines’ role came to a head in mid-April 2605 when reports out of Oberon described an attack on Uriel that wasn’t a typical hit-and-run operation. A Tevarin force had captured a sizable landing zone and the accompanying warrens near a quantum fuel refinery. Until then, the Tevarin had forgone establishing groundbases in favor of keeping their forces mobile. Military officials feared this meant that the Tevarin had entered the next phase in their war strategy; one that could see them taking land away from Humanity and using the existing infrastructure to establish resupply points. Such a spot in Oberon could be used to aid attacks on Vega and the UEE’s primary food producers in Bremen. Worse still would be if the Tevarin slipped through Bremen and entered the Perry Line. Military strategists deemed a Tevarin and Xi’an alliance a ‘Human Doomsday’ scenario that must be avoided at all costs.
Yet, when Marine General Russ Adachi presented to the joint fleet command a plan to attack the Tevarin base on Uriel, Army and Navy leadership balked at the operation. Oberon was unclaimed and Army and Navy officials believed that the war’s limited resources should only be deployed to defend UEE systems. Furthermore, they felt that the occupation was an obvious feint, designed to attract UEE forces. Raising the proposal to High Command, General Adachi underlined the strategic importance of denying the Tevarin a safe haven near UEE space and protecting Humanity from Tevarin aggression on every front. He feared that ignoring Oberon would only encourage the Tevarin to take more systems.
When High Command prioritized eliminating the Tevarin base, the Army and Navy argued that their combined force would be more effective than the Marines alone. Projection models of the proposed attack showed that a large scale engagement by Army and Navy forces would lead to considerable casualties and the destruction of a significant number of ships. Making matters worse, mobilizing forces for the assault would leave other areas of the Empire vulnerable to counterattack. High Command careful analyzed the collected data and decided on a surgical strike, clearing the way for the Marines to show the Tevarin what they were about.
The Marines were ready for the challenge. Special forces from the 1st Marine Combat Battalion had been training for weeks when word came down that High Command had authorized Operation Oberon. In preperation, they trained in an advanced combat style that could neutralize the infamous hand-to-hand expertise of the Tevarin’s elite soldiers, and used schematics and scans to build a replica of the landing zone’s warrens on Corin. Now an official go, they tirelessly drilled the assault before boarding a secretive Navy transport to Oberon.
The Marines knew they would be outnumbered and outgunned, so they needed to get to the planet without alerting the Tevarin. This involved waiting days until weather conditions provided enough cover for the deployment of “Nails” to quickly and covertly deliver the troops planetside. The Marines spent several anxious days waiting aboard a ship in Vega until getting word in the middle of the night that conditions were right. Their transport set out for Oberon, cautiously evading Tevarin patrols buzzing around the planet.
In the early hours of June 24, 2605, Marine commandos touched down on Uriel near a decommissioned maintenance enclosure that provided access to the subterranean tunnels connected to the quantum fuel refinery. The Marines believed that eliminating the facility’s strategic importance would drive the Tevarin to abandon the landing zone, so they advanced toward the refinery’s control room intent on destroying it.
The first stage of the mission went as planned. The Marines carefully avoided engagement until they entered the control room and killed all the Tevarin inside. While setting explosives, a contingent of Tevarin soldiers approached and engaged the Marines. The ensuing firefight and ever growing number of Tevarin troops prevented the Marines from planting the final charges. Seeing no alternative, they resorted to an improvised demolition strategy as they fled.
The Marines raced through the tunnels to their secondary exfiltration point, assuming that their original entry point had been compromised. They successfully reached the planetside only to receive word that Tevarin ships had engaged and chased away their approaching rescue ship. They were now stranded.
Filled with uncertainty regarding the success of their mission and unsure if they would ever leave Uriel, the Marines fled through the snow-covered mountains surrounding the landing zone. Thus beginning an epic and often unbelievable journey across harsh terrain with better supplied Tevarin forces nipping at their heels. When military analysts received word of the situation, they put their chances of survival at 3.8%. As General Adachi famously said, “They’ve obviously never met my Marines.”
He was right. Despite the drastic odds, this incredible journey through Uriel’s mountains would become legendary and inspire generations of young soldiers to sign up. Yet, the truth behind what actually occurred is even more unbelievable than the stories would lead you to believe.