Task Force Serpent
Task Force Serpent was a multi-national task force tasked with executing a secret military operation commissioned by the newly formed SLDF under the aegis of Marshal Morgan Hasek-Davion. Their objective was to reach the Clan Smoke Jaguar homeworld of Huntress and capture it, with the goal of destroying the Smoke Jaguars as an entity. The mission ran concurrent to Operation Bulldog - an operation whose goal was to drive the Smoke Jaguars from the worlds they occupied in the Inner Sphere. Although Morgan Hasek-Davion died en route by assassination, Ariana Winston of the Eridani Light Horse succeeded him and completed the mission.
General Winston, however, was killed in the final battle of Huntress, on 30th March, 3060 whilst piloting her Cyclops against a Smoke Jaguar Summoner, just ten days before Prince Victor Steiner-Davion and Taskforce Bulldog arrived planet-side. Command of Operation Serpent fell to General Winston's second-in-command, Colonel Charles Antonescu until Taskforce Bulldog arrived planet-side and relieved the shattered survivors of Operation Serpent.
- 1 Participating Units
- 2 History
- 3 Smoke Jaguar BattleForce Defense Forces
- 4 References
- 5 Bibliography
- Eridani Light Horse - RCT
- Northwind Highlanders + of the
- 1st Kathil Uhlans - 1 Regiment (4 'Mech Battalions)
- Detachment of the 2nd St. Ives Lancers (1 'Mech Battalion + Infantry)
- Kingston's Legionnaires - 1 Regiment (2 'Mech Battalions + infantry)
- Knights of the Inner Sphere - 1 Regiment (3 'Mech Battalions + Infantry)
- 11th Lyran Guards - RCT
- 2nd Com Guard Division - 3 'Mech heavy Level III/Battalions
- 4th Drakøns - 1 'Mech Battalion
Special Operations Forces
Additionally, Theodore Kurita deployed a team of four Nekekami, which revealed themselves only to the present head of Task Force Serpent. They were Kasugai Hatsumi (head of this group), Honda Tan, Rumiko Fox (specialty: venom and sniper rifle) and Kieji Sendai (specialty: explosives).
An unknown political faction (purportedly Word of Blake) sent an assassin, to kill Morgan Hasek-Davion. Kasugai Hatsumi claimed, that he was a former Loki-agent, but it is unknown if that is correct. This agent used the name Lucas Penrose.
- ISS Invisible Truth - Comstar, Cameron-class
- ISS Ranger - Comstar, Lola III-class
- ISS Emerald - Comstar, Essex-class
- ISS Starlight - Comstar, Essex-class
- DCS Haruna - Draconis Combine, Kyushu-class
- FCS Antrim - Federated Commonwealth, Fox-class
- FCS Rostock - Federated Commonwealth, Fox-class
- CGBS Firefang - Whirlwind-class; captured from Clan Ghost Bear during the operation
On November 14th 3058, during a military planning session for the first wave of Operation Bulldog, Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht presented new intelligence material about Clan Smoke Jaguar that have been delivered to him by the Smoke Jaguar defector, Trent. Among this information was the location of Huntress, the Smoke Jaguar homeworld. Morgan Hasek-Davion saw potential for the Inner Sphere forces to deal a devastating blow to the Smoke Jaguars by attacking their homeworld while also expelling them from the Inner Sphere. After convincing the others of the plan's viability, Hasek-Davion was named the Task Force Commander. His initial request for forces to make up the Task Force consisted of: the First Kathil Uhlans, the Eridani Light Horse, the Northwind Highlanders, the ComStar Invader Galaxy, the 11th Lyran Guards, the Second Sword of Light, one yet-to-be-determined regiment of McCarron's Armored Cavalry, the 1st St. Ives Lancers and the Knights of the Inner Sphere.
Task Force Serpent assembled on Fort Defiance, a barren planet deep in the Crucis March of the Federated Commonwealth, which was mostly used for military training maneuvers. There the various units trained fighting alongside each other and against the simulated Clan forces of the ComStar Invader Galaxy. Simultaneously, the DEST and MI6 teams trained for spacecraft boarding actions.
In November 3059 Task Force Serpent arrived in the Meribah system, which had a habitable planet. Morgan Hasek Davion ordered a Mule-class DropShip to obtain fresh drinking water from that planet. The 5th Striker Battalion of the 21st Striker Regiment of the Eridani Light Horse was detailed to serve as the security element for this mission. In the course of their duties, the Eridani unit encountered and defeated several 'Mech-equipped bandits: Meribah was the base of a group of pirates. Luckily, the pirates' main force was absent on a raid. The Eridani destroyed the base and released the slaves found there. The captured pirates were court-martialed and their leaders executed. The debate over the fate of the pirates caused major disagreements among the unit commanders of Task Force Serpent on ethical grounds. Morgan Hasek-Davion exercised his right as Task Force Commander to have the final say, but the damage to his personal relationship with some of the officers, including his deputy, Colonel Ariana Winston took some time to heal.
On December 15th, Task Force Serpent stumbled across a small Clan Ghost Bear fleet, consisting of: one Congress, two Whirlwinds and an Invader. The WarShips of TFS engaged the Ghost Bear WarShips, while the DEST-teams deployed and captured the Invader.
The Haruna, the Starlight and the Ranger all suffered heavy armor damage in the engagement. The Starlight also lost one of its naval PPCs. The Firefang was the only Ghost Bear ship that could be salvaged. The Congress was judged repairable if a shipyard had been available.
TFS spent several days at the site of the battle conducting repairs. Just as it left the system (later dubbed Gibraltar) it encountered an abnormal jump signature, which was noted, but not investigated.
In late December, the remaining pirates being held in custody and the surviving Ghost Bears were exiled on a habitable planet.
Death of Morgan Hasek-Davion
During the night of the 2nd January 3060, Morgan Hasek-Davion was poisoned with a rare venom introduced into his whiskey. Captain Roger Montjar from MI6 led the inquiry, later supported by Sho-sa Michael Ryan from DEST.
They discovered that this was the work of a professional assassin, as he had used a sophisticated expensive electronic code-cracking device to gain entry to the cabin. They also found out that they have five people in the fleet that simply did not exist before they had entered Comstar: It was the four Nekekami plus the assassin. One of them, Rumiko Fox, was subjected to a lie detector test, but the results were unclear. The next candidate was Lucas Penrose. He killed the guards that arrested him and fled into a room. When he was surrounded by other guards, he claimed that he had planted a bomb somewhere on the ship and demanded General Ariana Winston as a hostage. She complied to buy time for searchers to verify his claims about the bomb. As Ariana Winston blamed him for killing Morgan Hasek-Davion, Lucas Penrose replied how proud he was of his skills and that bombs are such a crude method compared to venom. As they spoke, Ariana Winston got closer and closer, until she was able to attack him. They both wrestled until Penrose was hit (maybe by Kasugai Hatsumi) with a poisoned Shuriken. Penrose lost his gun and Ariana Winston shot him the same second. However, as guards and MedTechs stormed in, Kasugai Hatsumi (disguised as a MedTech) retrieved the Shuriken.
After Ariana Winston's wounds had been treated, Kasugai Hatsumi contacted her. He revealed the existence of the Nekekami-team and told a story about Penrose being a rogue Loki-agent. He also demanded the release of Rumiko Fox.
General Ariana Winston was named the new commander of Task Force Serpent.
Shortly after the funeral of Morgan Hasek-Davion, the ships of TFS received a broadband transmission sent by Aleksandr Kerensky himself. It was a declaration explaining why the General had taken the SLDF from the Inner Sphere. As the message was traveling at lightspeed, it would not reach the Inner Sphere for several centuries after it had been sent. However, the Voice aided in the location of the Clan Homeworlds.
Sabotage on Huntress
In order to cripple the space defenses of the Smoke Jaguars' Huntress system, DEST teams were dispatched to eliminate key control facilities on the planet. To infiltrate the Clan Homeworld, the teams used a captured Broadsword class DropShip, which had been seized at the Battle of Gibraltar.
The DEST teams parachuted from the DropShip while it simulated a crash and disappeared. The DEST teams reached the Huntress C3 and SDS command center, which they destroyed with several bombs. During the fighting to extract themselves, the DEST team suffered several casualties, leaving behind proof that Inner Sphere forces were behind this attack. They hid in the wilderness to await the arrival of the rest of Task Force Serpent.
Assault on Huntress
On March 5th 3060, Task Force Serpent entered the Huntress system. They encountered three Smoke Jaguar WarShips: one Sovetskii Soyuz and two Vincents. The Sovetskii-Soyuz and one Vincent were destroyed, and the other Vincent was crippled. TFS fleet casualties included the loss of the Rostock while the Smaragd and Starlight were heavily damaged.
- The Eridani Light Horse attacked the planetary capital of Lootera, in two main thrusts. The 21st Striker Regiment and the 151st Light Horse assaulted a huge sibko training camp just outside Lootera. The 71st Light Horse captured the genetic repository, but suffered heavy losses among its infantry. They had to be reinforced by the 3rd Section of the 2nd ComGuards Division.
- The First Kathil Ulans attacked the city Myers with only minor problems.
- The Northwind Highlanders attacked the industrial center of Pahn City. Due to Trent's information, they were able to jam the frequencies of the defending Smoke Jaguars, thus crippling their defensive efforts.
- The Second St. Ives Lancers and the Fourth Rasalhague Drakons attacked a small sibko camp on the other side of the planet, losing five 'Mechs in the process.
- The Knights of the Inner Sphere and Kingston's Legionnaires attacked a large sibko camp near the city of New Andery. During the long and hard battle, they were hit hard by ProtoMechs and flank-attacked by a frontline Cluster. They had to retreat into the jungle with heavy losses. They were finally able to to achieve victory when reinforced by the 1st and 2nd Sections of the 2nd ComGuards Division, which made a combat drop to relieve them.
- The Eleventh Lyran Guard landed near Bagera, but were attacked by a small force of 'Mechs and Elementals while their own 'Mechs were still unloading. Due to the chaos caused by the attack on their Landing Zone, it took too long to destroy the enemy force and the Lyran Guard suffered several losses. When they finally moved on Bagera, they were attacked by a frontline cluster and had to retreat. Marshall Sharon Byron was wounded during the battle and called for Orbital Fire Support from the warships in the orbit. The attacking cluster was wiped out in a single salvo. The Eleventh Lyran Guard lost about half of its 'Mechs in this battle.
- The MI6 teams, the Rabid Foxes, established an observation post to keep the local Jade Falcon base under surveillance. They were attacked by a Point of Smoke Jaguar Elementals, whom they defeated with heavy losses to themselves.
After the initial series of attacks, approximately three trinaries of Smoke Jaguar forces survived and regrouped in the wilderness under the command of Galaxy Commander Russou Howell. While Task Force Serpent began systematically destroying and pillaging all military and industrial structures (including the destruction of statues honoring Smoke Jaguar heroes), the remaining Smoke Jaguars staged a successful raid on the Northwind Highlanders position, capturing ammunition and supplies.
Smoke Jaguar Reinforcements
On March 19th 3060, the remnants of the Smoke Jaguar Inner Sphere garrison forces reached Huntress. They were under the command of Galaxy Commander Hang Mehta and consisted of 340 'Mech and Elemental Points (roughly two Galaxies in strength). However it had less than 50 Fighters available for air support. During the initial battle for Huntress, Galaxy-commander Russou Howell had sent an emergency signal to Khan Lincoln Osis. Lincoln Osis used a series of HPG stations to give Hang Mehta new orders: wipe out all Inner Sphere forces on Huntress and reconquer the planet.
Hang Mehta had to realize how far the IS-forces had come: A Fox class WarShip stood arrogant and idle at the zenith jump point and opened uncoded transmissions from the forces on Huntress. Hang Mehta ordered her WarShips (one Liberator and two Vincents) to attack the enemy wherever possible. The DropShips were to travel to Huntress with maximum speed. And the JumpShips should try to escape.
Commodore Alain Beresick from the ISS Invisible Truth ordered the IS JumpShips to save themselves as well.
A battle ensued between the Inner Sphere and Smoke Jaguar WarShips. The Invisible Truth destroyed the Liberator (the Korat) with aid from the Firefang. The Emerald was crippled, but avenged by the Starlight, which destroyed the Vincent class Ripper. The other Vincent, the Azow, tried to attack the Starlight, but both ships were so heavily damaged that they collided accidentally. The Antrim tried to intercept the Smoke Jaguar DropShips, but was heavily damaged.
After the battle, the Inner Sphere fleet consisted of four ships: Invisible Truth, Ranger, Haruna and Firefang.
While the Smoke Jaguar reinforcements were on the way to the planet, Ariana Winston regrouped her troops: The Eridani Light Horse, the 2nd ComGuard Division and the Second St. Ives Lancers were concentrated at Lootera, and dubbed the 'North-Group'. General Andrew Redburn was given command of the 'South-Group' stationed at Osis Lake, between the Dhuan swamps and the Shikarid jungle. This group consisted of the First Kathil Uhlans, the Knights of the Inner Sphere and the Northwind Highlanders. The damaged Lyran Guard, the Drakons and Kingston's Legionnaires were hidden in the Lunar mountains as a reserve force.
On March 26th, the Smoke Jaguar Forces landed on Huntress. Star Colonel Paul Moon received orders to attack the Inner Sphere forces at Lootera with two Clusters (roughly 100 'Mechs and Elemental-points), but his troops were defeated by a solid formation and heavy artillery fire. Moon himself was crippled by an artillery grenade, taken prisoner by the Eridani and spent the rest of the Battle of Huntress in a coma.
The South Group was hit harder and had to fight a running battle for several hours. It suffered heavy losses and had to constantly retreat and regroup.
The same day, Khan Lincoln Osis' combat group arrived at Huntress. The Smoke Jaguar flagship, the Streaking Mist, jumped right into planetary orbit, carrying three units: Jaguar's Den, Mist Keshik and Heart of the Jaguar. The firepower of the Mist Keshik, the Heart of the Jaguar and the few other remaining Smoke Jaguar forces from that area, combined with an air-attack by the Keshik's fighters, drove the South Group deep into the Dhuan swamps to avoid destruction.
The Jaguar's Den joined with the northern forces of Hang Mehta. In a daring night attack, her forces attempted to flank the North Group. At the same time, a fast 'Mech trinary entered Lutera for a surprise attack. The main force bypassed the Eridani positions and attacked the ComGuards, which held the spaceport. The ComGuards were able to hold out until the Eridani arrived. The 151st Light Horse led the counterattack and the Smoke Jaguars were beaten back. They retreated right into the St. Ives Lancers' positions on the 'Field of Heroes', which were already desperately fighting the sole 'Mech trinary that by-passed the ELH positions.
- Note: It is unclear, at which point of this battle Russou Howell's cluster joined the carnage.
In the ensuing chaos, the morale of the Inner Sphere troops cracked and they retreated into the wilderness. Clan Smoke Jaguar had reconquered Lootera. The North Group acted swiftly to extract as many wounded from the field hospital set up in the genetic repository as possible, but many were in no condition to be moved and became prisoners.
The Heart of the Jaguar was ordered by saKhan Brandon Howell to drive the South Group out of the swamps. On March 28th, the unit engaged the South Group and both units suffered heavy damage. The North Group established a new defense in the Shikarid mountains, west of Lootera and fought several small but hard skirmishes. At the same time, Hang Mehta's troops reconfigured their 'Mechs with energy weapons, due to a shortage of ammunition. At this time, Hang Mehta commanded roughly 150 'Mechs and 20 Elemental-Points.
Upon receiving intelligence of this refit, Ariana Winston ordered an attack on the Smoke Jaguars. The attack was scheduled to begin on March 28th, right before sunrise. At this time, the Eridani Light Horse was at 60% strength. The main force for this attack were the 21st Striker Regiment and the 2nd ComGuard Division, with the 151st Light Horse covering the right flank and the mountains covering the left flank. However, the Smoke Jaguars noticed them on the march and hastily prepared for a battle. The Inner Sphere forces were beaten back and Colonel Edwin Amis from the 21st Striker was taken prisoner.
As nearly all the air/space-forces of Clan Smoke Jaguar were destroyed, and those of Task Force Serpent were almost intact, Ariana Winston ordered them on March 29th to attack the Smoke Jaguars harassing the South Group. Indeed, the Smoke Jaguars pulled back to their base at the border of the swamp to figure out a new strategy. At this time, the Kathil Uhlans consisted of 56 'Mechs and the Highlanders and Knights had approximately 1 'Mech Battalion each remaining.
The North Group retreated deeper and deeper into the mountainous wilderness. At this time, the Eridani Light Horse consisted of 96 'Mechs, the 2nd ComGuard Division consisted of 53 'Mechs and the 2nd St. Ives Lancers of 21 'Mechs. All units had suffered heavy losses, especially among lighter scout units and conventional infantry. Additionally, supplies were running out: the North-Group was unable to repair the armor damage to some of its 'Mechs and others were slowly running out of ammunition.
Task Force Serpent was completely unaware that they were facing the last remains of Clan Smoke Jaguar: approximately 4 clusters of frontline- and secondline-units. They thought Lincoln Osis had brought at least a whole additional Galaxy to Huntress and that further Smoke Jaguar reinforcements could arrive anytime.
Ariana Winston decided to activate her last reserves. Her plan called for all remaining WarShips to come to Huntress and either bombard the planet from orbit or extract the survivors of Task Force Serpent. The Lyran Guard would reinforce the South Group, while the 4th Rasalhague Drakons and Kingston's Legionnaires would reinforce the North Group. However, their DropShips would still need some time to transport the troops. Finally, when she received intelligence that the Smoke Jaguars had managed to reactivate the secondary C3 center and the HPG, she ordered the Nekekami to destroy these installations.
By noon on March 29th, the North Group was attacked in strength, losing all their artillery, most of their supplies, and their wounded as prisoners. They also lost about 20 'Mechs (mainly from the 71st Light Horse), but the Smoke Jaguars also lost 20 'Mechs as well, which was bad for them, as they had started with fewer 'Mechs at the beginning.
By afternoon a heavy thunderstorm hit Lootera and the Nekekami used it as cover to sneak into the city. Ariana Winston had tried to explain that hideous murder would threaten the high morale they claimed, but Kasugai Hatsumi was not in the mood for mercy. The Nekekami infiltrated the building, killed all the guards they encountered and planted a time-bomb in the basement. During their exfiltration, they ran into Lincoln Osis and his bodyguards. The Nekekami reacted swiftly and killed the guards with poisoned shiruken. Kasugai Hatsumi then challenged Lincoln Osis to a sword duel to exact personal revenge on him for the attacks on the Draconis Combine. The rest of the Nekekami fled. Lincoln Osis narrowly won the duel, but he suffered a deep flesh-wound in his left leg and the blood-loss almost killed him. He survived only by sheer luck when an Elemental patrol found him. They rushed him to a hospital, minutes before the building exploded. Russou Howell was seen to leave the building moments before the explosion, though never again.
The North Group retreated westwards, deeper into the mountains. Their movement was slowed because they lacked proper maps of the area. The Smoke Jaguars, however, did not have these difficulties. They not only had maps with the necessary resolution, but they also had more experience with the landscape.
On March 29th, Task Force Serpent tried to set an artillery-trap: The remnants of the DEST waited in a pass, armed with a portable TAG, hidden behind rocks. The rest of the North Group was several kilometers in the west, their Arrow IV-launchers ready. Indeed, they only had to wait half a day until a major Smoke Jaguar force showed up: at least 35 'Mechs and several Elementals. But after they had lost four 'Mechs (3 destroyed and 1 crippled), they simply stormed the ambush. Only two members of the DEST survived.
The North Group prepared for defense, but their chances were slim: the Eridani had roughly 60 'Mechs (medium to assault), the ComGuards had 31 'Mechs (but only 19 capable of serious combat) and the St. Ives Lancers roughly 8. Both sides engaged head-on in a narrow pass, but soon something strange was reported: the Elementals had disappeared.
A task-force, led by Hang Mehta herself, bypassed the TFS-positions and attacked their camp. The camp was defended by 19' Mechs and some infantry, but they were outnumbered against the Smoke Jaguars' ten heavy OmniMechs and two Elemental points. The Smoke Jaguars pillaged the camp; all remaining supplies were either robbed or destroyed and all noncombatants were either taken prisoner or swiftly executed.
Finally the main force of the North Group was able to push back the Smoke Jaguars, but returned to a destroyed base and no choice other than retreat further. By that time, Major Marcus Poling from the 2nd St. Ives Lancers had died after being literally cut in half by an Elemental's machine gun salvo. The 2nd St. Ives Lancers had been reduced to one 'Mech (a Victor) and about a handful of infantry.
By sunrise on March 30th, the reinforcements for the South Group and the North Group arrived. The Rasalhague Drakons and Kingston's Legionnaires reinforced the South Group. Andrew Redburn decided to force his troops to an extreme march, to reach the North Group at any cost, before it could be wiped out. The 11th Lyran Guards brought much-needed supplies to the North Group. With enough time, it could have been able to repair most of their remaining 'Mechs. But they did not get this chance: Alain Beresick reported a yet unidentified fleet of JumpShips had arrived. Contact with the WarShips at the jump points was lost. This further demoralized the already mentally-depleted troops.
By noon, the Smoke Jaguars attacked (among them 'Mechs from the Jaguar's Den). They had to get through a choke-point, which was only big enough to host about half a dozen 'Mechs at one time. Both sides kept feeding troops to the meatgrinder. Enraged by all these losses, Ariana Winston ran into battle with her Cyclops, pushing a Grasshopper aside and taking his place. She attacked a Summoner, but had not enough firepower for a quick kill. The Summoner struck her Cyclops with a punch and she went to the ground. The Summoner shot his PPC right into the cockpit of the defenseless 'Mech. Winston's death was revenged by Colonel Charles Antonescu, who kept firing on the Summoner until it was reduced to a pile of glowing scrap-metal.
Minutes later, Alain Beresick reported that the incoming fleet carried the forces of Operation Bulldog, which began immediate operations to relieve the parts of Task Force Serpent that were still under attack. In one of these actions, the Tenth Lyran Guard saved the Northwind Highlanders by performing a combat drop. Among the members of the Lyran Guard unit which took part in this relief was Major Archer Christifori.
By March 9th, all battle operations were over. Intelligence indicated Khan Lincoln Osis had left for Strana Mechty five hours before Task Force Bulldog had arrived. Galaxy Commander Hang Mehta had committed suicide by a ritual duel. Most star colonels had committed suicide as well. Galaxy Commander Russou Howell was reported missing.
On April 9th, the last sign of Smoke Jaguar on Lootera, a gigantic fresco depicting a jumping jaguar, was destroyed after a speech by Victor Steiner-Davion.
Less than one-third of the personnel of Task Force Serpent had survived. All units were scheduled rebuilding with salvaged Clan material. The Fourth Rasalhague Drakons were scheduled for a full overhaul to a battalion of OmniMechs. The rest of the salvaged material was to be auctioned, to create a fund for the families of those who had died.
One 'Mech company from the Kathil Uhlans joined Victor Steiner-Davion's forces for the battle on Strana Metchty.
Eventually, Task Force Serpent was dissolved. All remaining WarShips and the Eridani Light Horse were declared part of the new Star League Defense Forces. The First Kathil Uhlans were dissolved and most of its members were integrated in the newly formed 1st Royal BattleMech Regiment.
Smoke Jaguar BattleForce Defense Forces
- Twilight of the Clans, p. 8, "Task Force Serpent Composition"