The Fifteenth, originally part of the SLDF, had served the Confederation since Kerensky’s Exodus and, though technically mercenaries, were de facto house troops. A trait of the Dracon under their current commander, Samuel Shimosa, was the building of strong ties to the local community, and Gunthar was no exception. Expecting the Fifteenth to turn coat or to flee was thus never a realistic prospect, as the Third Canopian Fusiliers soon found to their cost. What was expected to be either a short, sharp campaign or a complete non-event turned into one of the longest and most hard-fought battles of the war.
The Fusiliers’ landings were unopposed in November of 3030, and the Canopian troops set about preparing a defensive perimeter, though few expected to need the preparations. On 11 November, two days after the landing, Major Wilhelm Archal made his “proposal” to Colonel Shimosa, expecting to engage in a negotiation that transferred the world to Canopian control. The tirade he received from “Sir Samuel” shocked him, sounding more like an outraged Warrior House Master than a sell-sword. Even more surprising was the assault, some six hours later, on the bridgehead. Many of the MAF troops were asleep and wakened to the sound of battle and chaos. The Dracons, having moved into position over the previous days, came close to smashing the Fusiliers’ position, with only the massed guns of their grounded DropShips preventing the mercenaries from pressing home their advantage. After two hours, the Dracon withdrew leaving the Canopian camp in disarray.
In the short, sharp engagement the Fusiliers lost over a company of ’Mechs, a number of them destroyed while unpowered and parked, along with massive quantities of ammunition and supplies. Dracon losses were relatively light, which abruptly made the campaign much more evenly balanced. The mercenaries pulled back from the landing zone and began a series of raids designed to test the Canopian defenses and to draw the Fusiliers out from under the guns of their DropShips. Realizing the tenuous nature of his position, Major Archal refused to take the bait and dispatched several of his companies on counter raids, hoping to wear down the mercenaries while waiting for reinforcements.
The dug-in Canopians were initially loath to take the initiative, but as the weeks passed and the likelihood of reinforcements declined, their attacks against the Dracons increased in number and intensity. Meanwhile, the Dracons continued their probing attacks, soon coming to the conclusion that a conventional assault couldn’t dislodge the invaders. Instead, they deliberately engineered “weaknesses” in their own defenses in an attempt to lure the Fusiliers into committing to an assault, though once again Archal refused to bite, and on only two occasions were there large-scale clashes between the two forces.
On 7 April, a mercenary recon company stumbled into a Canopian light armor force that had been patrolling the perimeter. In the bloody nineteen-hour clash that ensued, six Dracon ’Mechs were downed while more than twenty tanks were destroyed. The second and equally indecisive engagement came on 14 September as the invaders raided the Capellan stronghold of Riedam. Frustration at the lack of progress (and reinforcements) led to the operation, whose objective was to undermine the mercenary’s position by seizing key stockpiles of ammunition and food. The assault succeeded in its main objectives, torching warehouses and destroying large equipment, but the attack cost almost a company of ’Mechs, losses the Fusiliers could ill afford as the stalemate slipped into its second year.
 News of the Capellan counter-assault on Drozan and Betelgeuse in March 3032 galvanized both of the forces on Gunthar, the Third Canopian Fusiliers and the Fifteenth Dracon attacking each other with a ferocity hitherto unseen in the two-year campaign. It was too little too late, however, and on 19 June, with the alliance’s war plans in tatters, the MAF called back the Third Fusiliers. The Dracon would not, however, allow the Canopian unit to escape so easily. A surprise assault netted the mercenaries two MAF DropShips, placing the periphery force in an awkward position: although they had been mauled, they lacked the transport assets to evacuate everyone from Gunthar.
When efforts to retake the vessels failed and no commercial DropShips could be found to bolster the flotilla, the Third did the only thing they could. Packing as many ’Mechs and vehicles into the transports they had — including slotting some into vacant fighter cubicles and tying them down in cargo space — the remaining forces, a company of tanks, were destroyed by the Fusiliers themselves rather than allow them to fall into Capellan hands. The remaining cramped DropShips limped for the jump point, the last vessel departing the system on 9 July.
- System Name: Gunthar
- Coordinates: 39.64, -386.51
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